OpenAI Reverses Controversial Exit Agreements: Former Employees Released from Non-Disparagement Clauses

OpenAI Scraps Controversial NDAs: Former Employees Freed from Gag Orders | Insider Market Research

(Surce – Ars Technica)

OpenAI, facing scrutiny over its exit agreements, has retracted its controversial stance that forced former employees to choose between signing perpetual non-disparagement agreements or forfeiting their vested equity in the company.

Company Backtrack

In an internal memo obtained by CNBC and shared with current employees, OpenAI clarified its position. The memo addressed former employees, stating that despite prior instructions to sign non-disparagement agreements to retain vested equity, the company now affirms that vested units will not be canceled, regardless of whether the agreement was signed.

Furthermore, OpenAI announced it would not enforce any other non-disparagement or non-solicitation clauses that former employees may have agreed to. The company spokesperson emphasized that this decision aligns with updates to their departure process and reflects their commitment to fairness.

Apology and Acknowledgment

Expressing regret for the delayed action, the spokesperson conveyed OpenAI’s apology, affirming that the recent changes do not align with their values or desired company culture. Bloomberg initially reported on the release from the non-disparagement clause, while Vox highlighted the existence of the NDA provision.

The move comes amid a series of controversies surrounding OpenAI. Last week, the company faced backlash over its audio voices for ChatGPT, leading to the withdrawal of one voice, “Sky,” after comparisons to Scarlett Johansson’s voice in the movie “Her.”

Disbandment of AI Risk Team

Additionally, OpenAI disbanded its team focused on long-term AI risks, just a year after its formation. The decision followed the departure of team leaders Ilya Sutskever and Jan Leike, raising questions about the company’s commitment to AI safety.

While OpenAI did not provide an official statement, co-founder Sam Altman acknowledged the departures and emphasized the company’s ongoing efforts in a recent post. However, the company’s actions have drawn criticism, with concerns raised about its prioritization of product development over safety.

Commitment to AI Awareness

Despite the challenges, OpenAI remains committed to raising awareness of the risks and opportunities associated with artificial general intelligence (AGI). Co-founder Greg Brockman reiterated this commitment, emphasizing the company’s role in preparing the world for the advent of AGI.

OpenAI’s decision to release former employees from controversial exit agreements marks a significant shift in its approach to employee relations. As the company navigates challenges and controversies, its commitment to fairness and transparency will continue to shape its policies and actions.

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