OpenAI CEO Acknowledges Embarrassing Off-boarding Agreement

OpenAI CEO Acknowledges Embarrassing Off-boarding Agreement

Luisa Silva
1 min read

OpenAI CEO Apologizes for Embarrassing Off-Boarding Agreement

On Friday, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman acknowledged the embarrassment caused by the company's restrictive off-boarding agreement, particularly the provisions related to nondisclosure and non-disparagement. These clauses prohibited departing employees from criticizing OpenAI for life, leading to the loss of vested equity. Altman has assured that equity will not be clawed back from former employees who do not sign the agreement. OpenAI is taking steps to revise its exit paperwork and address concerns from former employees who signed the old agreements.

Key Takeaways

  • OpenAI's off-boarding agreement includes restrictive provisions concerning nondisclosure and non-disparagement.
  • Departing employees are forbidden from criticizing the company for life, risking the loss of vested equity.
  • CEO Sam Altman acknowledges the inappropriateness of the agreement's provisions and pledges to rectify the situation.
  • OpenAI is in the process of overhauling its exit paperwork and addressing the grievances of former employees.
  • Internal discord amongst employees has arisen over the company's core priorities, with some expressing concerns while others remain optimistic about OpenAI's trajectory in developing safe and beneficial artificial general intelligence.


OpenAI's onerous off-boarding agreements have sparked criticism and potential legal challenges, tarnishing the company's reputation. The severe restrictive measures and Altman's subsequent apology and remedial actions may help mitigate the immediate fallout. However, OpenAI's relationships with affected talent, investors, and partners could suffer temporary setbacks. In the long term, the company's influence in AI research may diminish, potentially impacting collaborations and regulatory scrutiny.

This development underscores the necessity for improved HR practices within the tech industry, particularly regarding employee retention and work culture.

Did You Know?

  • Restrictive off-boarding agreement: This is a legal agreement signed by departing employees that includes clauses related to confidentiality, non-disparagement, and non-competition, with the OpenAI case illustrating an overly restrictive agreement.
  • Nondisclosure and non-disparagement provisions: Common clauses prohibiting disclosure of confidential information and negative comments about the company, as exemplified by OpenAI's excessively restrictive provisions.
  • Clawback provision: A contractual clause enabling companies to recoup compensation if certain conditions are not met, as seen in OpenAI's agreement, with subsequent assurances from CEO Sam Altman regarding equity retention.

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