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OpenAI - Competitive Intelligence BETA

Get insider information on how OpenAI structures their compensation.


⏰ Recent Updates

  • May 2023 - OpenAI does not negotiate offers. They provide a high base salary and profit participation units in their offers. They do not typically provide sign-on bonuses as well.
  • June 2023 - https://www.levels.fyi/blog/openai-compensation.html
  • October 2023 - OpenAI offering $10M in compensation for researchers

📄 Offer Overview

🧐 Compensation Philosophy

What does a typical offer look like? What forms of compensation? Anything particularly unique to this company? How does this company pay relative to rest of market? How is compensation determined and set? Does compensation differ by location?

Typical offer contains two components: Base Salary and Profit Participation Units. Base salary is generally standard across leveling and much higher relative to competitors. The profit participation units are a tricky part, but work like profit interest units. For more details on the profit participation units, see our blog post here.

OpenAI has an internal compensation guideline they rely on, which they follow pretty closely, as we’ve heard from a few folks who have had trouble negotiating their offers. Our data also seems to support this, with many employees reporting similar base salaries and PPUs. They also have an internal valuation tool, which they use to determine the value and growth of PPUs, so the specific numbers aren’t likely to end up in the public’s awareness.

We don’t know how many PPUs are offered in a traditional offer, so we can’t say how they value each specific unit, but we have seen reports that venture capitalists have given a rough valuation of the company at $27 billion - $29 billion.

The most recent liquidation event we’re aware of happened during a tender offer earlier this year. It was during this event that some early employees were able to sell their profit participation units. It’s difficult to know how often these events happen and who is allowed to sell, though, as it’s on company discretion.

💵 Cash Compensation (Salary & Sign-on Bonus)

Do they give a sign-on bonus? If so, how much?

No, OpenAI does not provide a sign-on bonus.

📈 Equity Compensation (Valuation & Vesting Schedule)

How is value per share determined? What is the vesting schedule? Are signing bonuses offered and what is the range?

Equity type: Profit Participation Units

Vesting Schedule: 25/25/25/25 - Evenly over 4 years

There is a 2-year cliff with their equity, so you cannot participate in the PPUs until you hit 2 years of tenure.

💳 Benefits & Non-monetary Compensation

What notable benefits does this company provide? Note: Also check Levels.fyi's public benefits page for this company.

In addition to standard medical, dental, mental health benefits, they offer the following:

  • 401(k) plan with 4% matching
  • Unlimited time off and 18+ company holidays per year
  • Paid parental leave (20 weeks) and family-planning support
  • Annual learning & development stipend ($1,500 per year)

⏳ Timeline

How much time does someone have to think about an offer before accepting? Are they strict about dates?

OpenAI seems very intentional about their hiring and will wait for the right candidate, offer deadlines can range from 1 week to 4 weeks.

🛳 Visas & Immigration

What are the companies policies for hiring non-US citizens? How does immigration process work?

Unsure on this at this stage.

🚨 Gotcha's

Anything to watch out for?

  • OpenAI does not negotiate.

🤑 Negotiations

🔍 Process Overview

How are offers generated? How soon can someone hear back from the recruiter after negotiating? How many rounds of negotiations can be done? What happens after signing an offer?

OpenAI does not negotiate, even with competing offers, retention offers, etc.

⚖️ Levers

What components can be negotiated? What levers can be adjusted (ex. salary can be increased)?

None, though there does seem to be some variance of base salaries/equity among offers, we aren’t sure how it’s determine.

👥 Stakeholders

Who's involved in the process (ex. hiring manager, recruiter, etc.)? Who has the authority to make compensation decisions?

The recruiter and hiring manager are heavily involved in the process.

📎 Other Negotiables

Can PTO be negotiated? Can relocation be negotiated? Can any other benefits be negotiated?


💼 Negotiation for Employees

If I start and I get promoted, do I get to re-negotiate my package? Can I negotiate a raise? How hard is it to negotiate an increase after I join?


👩‍💻 Employee Compensation Policies

♻️ Refreshers

What happen after 4 years when my stocks are fully vested?

Unsure of refreshers for OpenAI. Considering their PPU model, it seems unlikely.

💲 Performance Bonuses

Are they given? How do they work? When are yearly bonuses paid out? When is the cut-off for someone to be eligible for a performance review?

There are no performance bonuses.

🌎 Other Resources