This week, OpenAI hinted that it might soon start charging for ChatGPT, a popular chatbot powered by AI that can create documents like essays, emails, poetry, and even computer code. OpenAI stated that one of the ways it is “beginning to think about how to commercialise ChatGPT” is to “guarantee [the tool’s] long-term survival” in a post on the company’s official Discord channel.
Evidently, ChatGPT Professional will be the name of the commercialised version of the software. In the Discord server, OpenAI provided a waitlist link that includes a series of questions about payment preferences, including one that asks, “At what price (per month) would you consider ChatGPT to be so costly that you would not consider buying it?”
The waitlist also lists the advantages of ChatGPT Professional, which include “at least 2x the standard daily limit” of messages and no “blackout” (i.e., unavailability) windows. The waitlist form’s submitters may be chosen for a trial of ChatGPT Professional, according to OpenAI, but the service is still in its experimental phases and won’t be made generally available “at this moment.”
Despite controversy and a number of bans, ChatGPT has succeeded in generating significant media coverage for OpenAI and innumerable online jokes. A few investors have included ChatGPT into their business processes. For an advertisement for Mint Mobile, the mobile provider he co-owns, Ryan Reynolds used ChatGPT. Additionally, according to reports, Microsoft would integrate ChatGPT’s AI into its Office programme and Bing.
As of the beginning of December, ChatGPT had over a million members, an impressive user base by any standard. But maintaining the service is expensive. Sam Altman, co-founder and CEO of OpenAI, described ChatGPT’s operational costs as “eye-watering,” with a total compute cost of a few cents each session. (The Azure cloud of Microsoft hosts ChatGPT.)
A $10 billion investment from Microsoft is expected, therefore OpenAI is under pressure to make money on products like ChatGPT. Considering the over $1 billion that has already been spent in the firm, OpenAI expects to generate just $200 million in 2023.
This week, Semafor revealed that Microsoft is aiming to acquire a 49% share in OpenAI, valuing the business at around $29 billion. According to the agreement, Microsoft would earn 75% of OpenAI’s income up until it recoups its investment, while subsequent investors would receive 49% and OpenAI would hold onto the remaining 2% of the shares.
With a “capped-profit” business plan that restricts investors’ returns to 100 times their investment, or maybe less in the future, OpenAI features a unique corporate structure.