OpenAI staffers who signed a letter saying they’re going to join Sam Altman at Microsoft don’t actually have official job offers yet

  • Hundreds of OpenAI employees signed a letter saying they were set to join Sam Altman at Microsoft.
  • While the letter says everyone’s been guaranteed jobs, there is no official agreement, sources say.
  • Staffers have taken a big “leap of faith” based on verbal assurances of jobs and compensation.

Hundreds of OpenAI employees who have pledged to resign in protest of co-founder and CEO Sam Altman’s chaotic board ouster are putting their faith in Microsoft to provide them with jobs.

In an open letter signed by nearly all of OpenAI’s staff as of Monday afternoon, signatories demanded that the current board of directors resign and Altman be reinstated, or else they would join him and former OpenAI president Greg Brockman in a new research venture at Microsoft. According to two people familiar with OpenAI and the letter’s formation, while the letter states that “Microsoft has assured us there are positions for all OpenAI employees” at a “new subsidiary,” neither the jobs nor the subsidiary exist as of yet. Wired was the first to report on the letter’s contents.

According to people familiar with the offers, the Microsoft assurances given to high-level staff who initiated the letter were strictly “verbal.” The specifics of these verbal assurances stated that OpenAI employees who resigned would receive the same total compensation they received at OpenAI if hired by Microsoft.

The generative AI company has some of the highest pay in tech, with base salaries frequently around $300,000 combined with generous grants of profit participation units, a type of equity compensation, that have many employees poised to earn $2 million or more in equity alone.

However, without a formal offer in hand, OpenAI employees have taken a “leap of faith” to protest Altman’s firing, according to one person familiar with the negotiations. Another questioned whether Microsoft, OpenAI’s largest investor, could suddenly hire nearly 900 new employees at such a high level of compensation. Over the last year, the company, like the rest of Big Tech, has laid off employees and reduced hiring.

According to a Microsoft employee, what Microsoft can and cannot do is determined by what CEO Satya Nadella wants to see happen at his company. If Nadella wants to effectively absorb the entirety of OpenAI and pay them what they are owed, he can do so.

“It’s Satya, he can just wave his CEO wand,” said a Microsoft employee.

Finally, a move to Microsoft is not something that OpenAI employees want. Although everyone who signed the letter has demonstrated a willingness to work for Microsoft, they have little desire to work there as long as Altman is there as well. According to one of the employees, the company is massive in comparison to OpenAI, with a reputation for bureaucracy, slower work, and lower pay.

“The best case scenario is Sam returns and the board is fired,” one source said. Altman could still be working on that.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply