It’s no secret that NBCUniversal is in serious talks to buy out Microsoft’s remaning stake in the online news venture msnbc.com. All indications point to a deal happening, with some speculation that an announcement is just days away.

If the deal goes through, we’ve wondered what will happen to the msnbc.com staffers who’ve worked on Microsoft’s Redmond campus for years. And now here comes some word on that front.

Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast reports that the spin off would include msnbc.com boss Charlie Tillinghast and about half of the website’s 300 Redmond employees moving to a new location. The new name of the entity would be NBCNews.com.

Now, where would the remaining staffers go?

The P-I globe in Seattle. Photo via Matthew Rutledge

If they stuck around the Seattle area, there’s one logical choice: The former Seattle P-I building. msnbc.com already maintains operations in the building, going back to its 2007 purchase of Seattle startup Newsvine.

The Seattle P-I, which shut down print production in 2009 and moved its online staff out of the building recently, no longer has a presence in the waterfront property (other than the massive spinning neon globe that declares: It’s in the P-I, a relic that’s slated to go to the city’s Museum of History & Industry).

Over the years, msnbc.com has raided some of the talent from the P-I, including Michael Wann, the managing editor of msnbc.com, and Jennifer Sizemore, general manager and editor-in-chief of msnbc.com and Today.com. So, they at least, in addition to the Newsvine staff, must be familiar with the property.

I’ve asked some of my real estate sources if they’ve heard any rumblings around town about whether msnbc.com is looking for space in the Seattle region, and I’ll provide updates if I learn more.

Msnbc.com is operated separately from the msnbc cable channel. The television property was originally an NBC-Microsoft joint venture, as well, before NBC purchased Microsoft’s stake in the cable joint venture. AdWeek originally reported on the talks to split msnbc.com from Microsoft in May.

(Note: GeekWire is a media partner of msnbc.com, which publishes selected GeekWire stories. GeekWire founders John Cook and Todd Bishop previously worked as tech reporters at the P-I).

Comments

  • Redstone Rocket

    Smart hypothesis about the P-I building but I wouldn’t bet on it. msnbc.com has substantial infrastructure investments (satellite dishes, news feeds, a newsroom rebuilt in the past few years at a seven-figure cost, etc) in the MSFT campus building and it would take a really compelling business justification to move the operation out of that facility. The P-I building provides none of those infrastructure pieces and so if the deal has the company moving, I’d bet on an existing NBCUniversal facility as the infrastructure would be in place and there are other colocation synergies that would materialize. My money would be on 30 Rockefeller Center, if they move at all.

    • Guest

      It sounds like NBC wants to consolidate, so I suspect they’re pulling up stakes and leaving.

      Given the success of the aQuantive purchase, maybe Ballmer is going to pay NBC for the facilities. Of course, he’ll offer 8 figures for it.

    • johnhcook

      Yep, msnbc.com could pull out of Seattle altogether. But I could see them moving content folks to NYC, but leaving some of the tech talent here. If they did that, they could build around the Newsvine team in Seattle (possibly in the P-I building).

      We’ve seen this structure before in the NW with big content/media companies. After all, Walt Disney has a big chunk of their technology operations in Seattle, a legacy of Starwave.

  • Guest

    Maybe I missed it but, sad to say, it seems like a more likely scenario is that those that don’t move will just be let go.

    Ockham’s Razor and all that.

    • Guest

      Obviously. Plans to move 150? Other half? Probably gone. It’s good for the biz but bad for the overpaid journos.

      • Guest

        Actually, I suspect the people they move are the content folks.

        It looks like NBC’s other stuff is running linux (http://searchdns.netcraft.com/?host=nbc.com&x=0&y=0).

        I’m guessing if you’re a Windows Server platform person (engineering/dev) you’re not moving.

  • Michael Kinsley

    Many msnbc.com technical staff are msft blue badge. My guess is all they get the standard offer to “find work elsewhere in the company”. Success with that approach will – of course – depend on one’s recent reviews and stack rank.

    • Pew

      No silly. Fewer than 10% carry blue badges.

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