Sam Altman, Jiu Jitsu Master

Table of Contents

Sam Altman, Jiu Jitsu Master

The core principle in the Japanese martial art of Jui Jitsu is to use and redirect an attacker’s energy back to them, instead of directly opposing it. [1]

Jui Jitsu can be handy in political situations too...and it appears that Sam Altman is a master.

A Complicated Relationship

OpenAI was formed as a non-profit in 2015 with the goal of developing artificial intelligence in a safe way that "benefits all of humanity".

Many believe safety is paramount when it comes to AI and see it in a risk category with nuclear weapons or climate change. In a 2022 survey of AI researchers, the majority believed there is a 10 percent or greater chance that our inability to control AI will cause an existential catastrophe [2]

Almost 1 year ago, OpenAI released ChatGPT under its new for-profit subsidiary. According to Wikipedia, The nonprofit, OpenAI, Inc., is the sole controlling shareholder of OpenAI Global LLC, which, despite being a for-profit company, retains a formal fiduciary responsibility to OpenAI, Inc.'s nonprofit charter.

Since then, the corporate child of a non-profit has been leading the global race to commercialize artificial intelligence. ChatGPT is seen as the fastest-growing consumer internet app of all time, with over 100 million weekly active users [2]. OpenAI was projecting $200 million of revenue in 2023 and $1 billion in revenue in 2024.

Their success ignited teams from Google, Meta, Amazon,, and thousands of startups around the world who have been all-hands-on-deck trying building more powerful and useful AI systems to overtake OpenAI.

The Board Attacks

OpenAI’s succes could only be accomplished by of one of the world's most savvy business leaders. Sam Altman, is incredible at what he does and that’s why he’s respected and loved by OpenAI's staff and most of Silicon Valley.

For reasons that are not publicly known, the board of OpenAI, the non-profit, exercised their right to fire Sam as CEO last week. The board released very little information about their decision and most people claim it was poorly executed.

His Jiu Jitsu Moment

But by the time of his firing, Sam had created a for-profit culture around OpenAI’s non-profit mission. Most of OpenAI’s 775 employees had threatened to quit and Microsoft, its largest investor, made him an enticing offer to rebuild his team under their umbrella.

In less than a week, Sam returned as the OpenAI CEO.

The non-profit board that ousted Sam was lobotomized behind closed doors. The safety-focused members are out. The board gained a new chairman, Bret Taylor, who is like a multiple Olympic medalists if the only event is “money”. Also Microsoft is assumed to have more influence over the organization now.

Microsoft, one of the most benevolent, responsible corporations of our millennium. No reason to be paranoid. -@IsaacLatterell

Sam Altman, Jiu Jitsu master, used the board's energy against them.


Like the doomsday scenario of an accelerating AI that is unable to be contained by humans, OpenAI, the world’s fastest growing company could not be contained by its non-profit mission. Their interests don’t align.

OpenAI is still technically a non-profit but now the for-profit tail is wagging the dog. It's back in the race to commercialize a superintelligent AI that will hopefully be kind to us mortals.