OpenAI Responds to Leaks: Former Employees Freed to Criticize Company

Why Trust Techopedia
Key Takeaways

  • OpenAI is releasing former employees from non-disparagement agreements.
  • They prevented them from criticizing the company if they wanted to keep their equity.
  • Sam Altman admitted via a post on X that the policy was a mistake.

OpenAI is correcting its policies after a leaked document showing that it gagged employees with non-disclosure and non-disparagement contracts.

In response, OpenAI is releasing former employees from non-disparagement agreements that prevented them from criticizing the company after leaving.

The news of the policy reversal relieved former employees who were previously silenced.

According to Bloomberg, OpenAI, in a text message sent to its employees, confirmed that vested equity earned during their tenure remains safe regardless of past agreements.

However, whether there will be compensation for employees who may have previously lost their equity for refusing the gag order remains unanswered.

OpenAI’s Controversial Agreements

This comes after controversy over the company’s policy of forcing departing staff to choose between keeping their earned stock options and speaking out.

Before now, disgruntled ex-employees could lose millions of their equity if they refused to sign the non-disparagement clause or dared to criticize the company after signing.

In response to the reports, OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman took full responsibility, admitting via a post on X that the policy was a mistake and that the company has never taken anyone’s equity, nor is it planning to if anyone refuses to sign a non-disparagement.

“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,” part of Altman’s post reads.

OpenAI’s Recent Troubles

This shift in policy comes amidst a period of unrest for OpenAI who recently disbanded its team dedicated to safeguarding humanity from the potential dangers of artificial intelligence. This move led to the departure of a key scientist.

OpenAI’s dissolution of its AI safety team has fueled anxieties about the future of AI development. It fits well into Elon Musk’s allegation that OpenAI has abandoned its AI safety principles, for a more profit-oriented paradigm.