CEO Sam Altman Reacts to the NDA Disaster At OpenAI

Sam Altman - OpenAI

CEO Sam Altman stated on Saturday that OpenAI employees who left the company without signing a non-disparagement agreement risked losing vested equity if they did not comply, although this policy was never enforced.

It was initially reported on the terms of the exit contract following the notable departures of two AI safety researchers from the company: Superalignment co-lead Jan Leike and co-founder and former Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever.

Both Sutskever and Leike left on Tuesday. Although Sutskever did not discuss the reasons for his abrupt departure, Business Insider previously reported that Sutskever, an OpenAI board member, had been in a state of uncertainty after attempting to remove Altman as CEO.

Leike remained silent until Friday morning when he revealed that he left because OpenAI’s “safety culture and processes have taken a backseat to shiny products.”

Sam Altman – OpenAI

It was reported on Friday that their silence might have been due to a non-disparagement agreement preventing former employees from criticizing the company and from even acknowledging the existence of the NDA.

On Saturday, Altman confirmed the contract’s existence but asserted that the company has never “clawed back anyone’s vested equity.” He also announced that the company would no longer include that clause in exit paperwork.

“This is on me and one of the few times I’ve been genuinely embarrassed running openai; I did not know this was happening, and I should have,” Altman wrote on X.

Sam Altman

Further, “Regarding recent stuff about how OpenAI handles equity, we have never clawed back anyone’s vested equity, nor will we do that if people do not sign a separation agreement (or don’t agree to a non-disparagement agreement). Vested equity is vested equity, full stop.”

BI previously reported that OpenAI’s employee compensation includes a flat base salary of $300,000 alongside a yearly grant of around $500,000 in PPUs, or profit participation units, a form of equity compensation.

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