Trending: One year later, Microsoft AI and Research grows to 8k people in massive bet on artificial intelligence

It’s official. Microsoft has sold off its stake in msnbc.com, the Redmond-based online news venture that it has operated with NBCUniversal for the past 16 years. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but The New York Times reports that Microsoft could get up to $300 million for its 50 percent stake.

As part of the arrangement, the news site is being rebranded as NBCNews.com and will be aligned with NBC’s other media properties. The company’s news operation will shift to New York, but it plans to maintain some technical operations in the Seattle area by establishing what it calls the NBC News Innovation Center. The news operation employs about 300 people.

“We’ll continue to have a strong presence in Seattle,” said Vivian Schiller, chief digital officer at NBC News in an interview on NBCNews.com. “There’s true innovation going on there, and we take that seriously.”

The company plans to remain on the Microsoft campus temporarily, but will look for new space elsewhere in the city. Last week, we speculated that the news organization could possibly shift to the old Seattle P-I building where the company’s Newsvine unit is based.

The integration is expected to take up to two years, and is intended resolve some of the brand confusion that surrounded msnbc.com. Msnbc.com will relaunch next year, connecting its Web presence to the TV news network that shares the same name. (Microsoft divested itself of the TV network in 2005).

Microsoft, meanwhile, plans to staff up its own news efforts at MSN.com and possibly ink deals with other news networks for a relaunch later this year.

“We’re talking about using technology and using data to solve information delivery and news delivery in new and innovative ways,” MSN General Manager Bob Visse told NBCNews.com. “It’s really difficult for us to do that when we have an exclusive, single-source relationship with one news provider.”

Here’s a note posted on the site tonight by NBCNews.com Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Sizemore:

Dear readers, fans and friends,

For 16 years, it has been our privilege at msnbc.com to bring you one of America’s favorite sources for insightful and compelling news and information. We’ve been your source for breaking news, one-of-a-kind stories, segments from NBC News and MSNBC shows, and live video coverage of the most important news events of our time. Our team has never stopped working to satisfy your curiosity, whenever and wherever you are.

Today we’re taking on a new name — NBCNews.com. While our name is changing, our commitment is not. In fact, in the weeks and months ahead, we’ll be bringing you more of what you love today, and NBCNews.com will stay true to its mandate of delivering the news you need with the innovative spirit you’ve come to expect across all of our digital platforms. Over the years, we’ve won dozens of awards for our digital coverage, but the real reward has been serving you, our audience.

So while you’ll notice some changes to our logos and navigation, nothing’s going away.

In fact, there’s more to come: MSNBC TV will launch a new digital home in 2013, as an extension of the MSNBC TV on-air brand, creating in-depth content and a community for the passionate audiences of MSNBC programs. Until then, MSNBC TV’s digital content will continue to be available on this site, right where you’ve always found it.

We’re more excited than ever for the future of digital news and look forward to many more years of keeping you on the cutting edge. In the meantime, if you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you onFacebook and Twitter or email us .

Keep on keeping curious,

Jennifer Sizemore
Editor-in-Chief

(Note: GeekWire is a media partner of msnbc.com, which publishes selected GeekWire stories.)

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