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  • Vishal Narayan

Sam Altman 'embarrassed' about equity cancellation clause at OpenAI, says will fix it

While there is a provision of cancellation of vested equity of outgoing employees if they refuse to sign 'non-disparagement agreement,' OpenAI never enforced the clause, neither will it ever, the company CEO Sam Altman said on Saturday. 

Altman's remarks come in the wake of two big departures from the company –Ilya Sutskever and Jan Leike. 

While Sutskever had virtually been in a limbo ever since Altman's dramatic departure from the firm, and even more dramatic return, Leike left the firm citing differences with its approach towards the safe AI development. 

The matter was given a further twist on Friday, when Vox reported that the two biggies of the firm were tacit in revealing reasons for their leaving because of a clause that could cancel their equity. 

Altman, on Saturday, sought to address the matter in a post on X. 

He said that the company never "clawed back anyone's vested equity," nor will we do it if people do not sign a separation agreement (or don't agree to a non-disparagement agreement). "vested equity is vested equity. full stop."

He said that though there was a provision about potential equity cancellation in the company's previous exit docs, it never "clawed anything back" and the provision should never have been in the company communication or its docs. 

"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 said. 

"the team was already in the process of fixing the standard exit paperwork over the past month or so. if any former employee who signed one of those old agreements is worried about it, they can contact me and we'll fix that too. very sorry about this," he added.

Leike, the head of Superalignment unit of OpenAI, announced his exit from the firm Thursday, citing diverging views from the top leadership.

"Building smarter-than-human machines is an inherently dangerous endeavor.

"OpenAI is shouldering an enormous responsibility on behalf of all of humanity. But over the past years, safety culture and processes have taken a backseat to shiny products," he said in a post on X.  

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman Image Source: Wikipedia




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