OpenAI’s Hidden Policy: Ex-Employees Could Have Lost Vested Equity Over NDAs

Sam Altman Discusses the Issue of ‘Potential Equity Cancellation’ in OpenAI NDA

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman recently revealed that employees who left the company without signing a non-disparagement agreement could potentially lose their vested equity. However, this policy was never actually enforced by the company. On Tuesday, two employees, Sutskever and Leike, left the company. Sutskever, who was a board member, had reportedly been in a difficult position following his attempt to remove Altman as CEO. Meanwhile, Leike did not reveal his reasons for leaving until Friday, citing concerns about the company’s prioritization of products over safety culture and processes.

According to Vox’s report, former employees may have been prohibited from critiquing OpenAI due to a nondisparagement agreement that also prevented them from acknowledging the existence of such an agreement. However, Altman later confirmed the existence of the contract but stated that vested equity was never revoked from former employees who did not comply with this policy. He further announced that OpenAI would no longer include this clause in exit paperwork moving forward.

OpenAI offers its employees a base salary of $300,000 along with an annual grant of approximately $500,000 in profit participation units (PPUs) as part of their compensation package. Despite the publicity surrounding these matters, the company did not provide an immediate response to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Sophia Reynolds

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