back to article OpenAI tells employees it won't claw back their vested equity

OpenAI has told former and current staff that it won't enforce nondisparagement agreements that could have cost employees dearly. According to a report in Vox at the end of last week, the company used a very restrictive off-boarding agreement that, in effect, forbade former employees from criticizing OpenAI for the rest of …

  1. tfewster
    Facepalm

    For a new industry, they sure have some archaic feudal working practices.

    Altman was fired at one point, so it should have been made clear to him then that he had a lot to lose in his lifetime enforced servitude to OpenAI.

    Unrelated to OpenAI, but funny: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/articles/cd11gzejgz4o - Glue pizza and eat rocks: Google AI search errors go viral

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Congrats on the good work to whoever does SEO for Lucas: Google’s “AI Overview” .... to recommending "blinker fluid,"

      Almost makes me want to participate on StackO again.

  2. Bendacious Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    Fuss about nothing

    It won't matter if employees lose their equity because OpenAI is a fluffy non-profit that exists purely to make the world a better place and doesn't sully itself pursuing money. At least that's what they said at the start. Have they done a Google and removed the "don't be evil" mission statement? Ahhhh poop.

    1. Catkin Silver badge

      Re: Fuss about nothing

      There's OpenAI Inc. (non profit) and OpenAI Global LLC (for profit). You can't hold a stake in a non profit.

      1. UnknownUnknown

        Re: Fuss about nothing

        There is a huge difference between ‘not for profit’ and charity.

        See Mozilla for example.

  3. jake Silver badge

    Sounds to me like ...

    ... the rule-makers knew from the git-go that their product was shit, and were afraid that word would get out before they made their mbillions. Now it has momentum, and the Wide World of Media (and by extension, the Politicians and Wall Street) have bought into yet another product that they have absolutely no clue about, so the rules can get relaxed a trifle before the investors discover the emperor has no clothes.

    I still wouldn't trust them, though. A signed contract is a signed contract, and a company spending the money of credulous fools has bigger lawyers than any ex-employee. If I had signed one of those bits of paper, I'd keep my yap shut before I cashed out.

    1. Red Ted

      Re: Sounds to me like ...

      “I'd keep my yap shut before I cashed out”

      My understanding of the article was that they could come for your even after you had cashed out.

  4. Woodnag

    off-boarding agreement?

    Why would a resigning employee sign an off-boarding agreement?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: off-boarding agreement?

      The company says you get these things ($) if you agree not to sue us, etc. Some variant of these is not uncommon in tech. It isn't hush money, of course...

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: off-boarding agreement?

      Usually they have a carrot involved. We will pay you [time period] worth of salary and you will agree to these terms. If you don't agree, fine, but no payment. Those terms can be quite simple or very complex and overbearing, and some of them could already be illegal, but the general concept isn't.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: off-boarding agreement?

        Usually a mouldy carrot. "We will pay you what we are actually obliged to pay you anyway, but if you don't sign this then we'll welch and use a backdated arbitration clause we just made up after we realised what we are doing is illegal, to try and intimidate you into giving up and letting us steal from you."

  5. iron Silver badge

    Rogue HR Employee

    So those clauses in their contracts were added by a rogue HR employee?

    It makes a change from all those rogue engineers who steal our private data without Google's knowledge.

    US corporations really need to do a better job weeding out these rogue employees during recruitment.

    1. doublerot13

      Re: Rogue HR Employee

      Rogue HR employee? Probably the head of HR. HR departments exist to do follow the direction the CEO tells them, and treat their human resources accordingly.

      Weird how people still think they're a force for good. "I'm going to HR" is laughable.

  6. Reiki Shangle
    Alert

    Mixed and contradictory messaging, is that a new thing?

    Corporate messaging and legals that need to be “confirmed“ or “clarified” through a global fact-free chit-chat network (Xitter) are a sure sign that chaos and the well-worn try-it-and-see-what-happens management stance is determining direction and public relations strategies. I wouldn’t expect such unprofessional work from an employee, and if my new AI substitute employee exhibited such behaviour, I would want to take advantage of the return policy, or I’d call my insurance company to manage the mess, whilst reviewing my newly minted AI job-replacement program. Repeated ill-considered behaviour doesn’t indicate that things will improve.

    What a mess.

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