In a high-stakes talent tug-of-war in the tech industry, top engineers at OpenAI, who have the potential to earn as much as $800,000 a year, demonstrated their clout by threatening to resign collectively if CEO Sam Altman was not reinstated.
What Happened: OpenAI confronted the possibility of a significant workforce departure after Altman was dismissed. After just days of chaos, which was tumultuous, to say the least, Altman was reinstated. However, it was the employees that came out of this situation as the true winner, reported Bloomberg.
AI engineers are a coveted resource, commanding 8% to 12.5% higher salaries than their non-AI peers, as per data from compensation platform Levels.fyi.
More specialized roles at OpenAI can fetch between $300,000 and $450,000, not including bonuses and stock awards. This could push total remuneration to nearly $800,000 per year.
Julia Pollak, ZipRecruiter’s chief economist, stressed the importance of retaining such specialized employees. “For emerging technologies like AI, you only have a very small, small group of people who are experienced. They are the product, they are the company,” she said.
She pointed out the challenges in hiring and training for these roles, placing OpenAI employees in a strong position to affect the company’s choices. The situation also underscored the growing value of experienced in-house engineers over external hires in the complex field of AI.
Why It Matters: Before Altman’s reinstatement, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), which has a roughly 49% stake in OpenAI, had extended job offers in its new AI research lab to the potentially departing staff.
However, the Satya Nadella-led company’s decision sparked outrage among its existing staff due to perceived disparities in compensation and job security.
The drama surrounding OpenAI has been intense and quick-paced, with allegations of neglecting AI safety, leading to the temporary ousting of its CEO. The episode underscores the power dynamics and high stakes involved in the tech industry’s talent war.
Produced in association with Benzinga