OpenAI on Monday announced its biggest news since ChatGPT’s debut: It’s launching ChatGPT Enterprise, the AI chatbot’s business tier, available starting Monday.
The tool has been in development for “under a year” and had the help of more than 20 companies of varying sizes and industries, OpenAI COO Brad Lightcap told CNBC. ChatGPT Enterprise includes access to GPT-4 with no usage caps, performance that’s up to two times faster than previous versions, and API credits. Lightcap said that pricing would not be publicly announced and that it “it will depend, for us, on every company’s use cases and size.” Beta users included Block, Canva and The Estée Lauder Cos.
Earlier this year, Microsoft‘s expanded investment in OpenAI — an additional $10 billion — made it the biggest AI investment of the year, according to PitchBook, and in April, the startup reportedly closed a $300 million share sale at a valuation between $27 billion-$29 billion, with investments from firms such as Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz. Two months after ChatGPT’s launch in November, it surpassed 100 million monthly active users, breaking records for the fastest-growing consumer application in history: “a phenomenal uptake – we’ve frankly never seen anything like it, and interest has grown ever since,” Brian Burke, a research vice president at Gartner, told CNBC in May.
More than 80% of Fortune 500 companies had teams actively using ChatGPT, per Lightcap and OpenAI.
One key differentiator between ChatGPT Enterprise and the consumer-facing version: ChatGPT Enterprise will allow clients to input company data to train and customize ChatGPT for their own industries and use cases, although some of those features aren’t yet available in Monday’s debut. The company also plans to introduce another tier of usage, called ChatGPT Business, for smaller teams, but did not specify a timeline.
Lightcap told CNBC that rolling out the enterprise version first, and waiting on the business tier, “gives us a little bit more of a way to engage with teams in a hands-on way and understand what the deployment motion looks like before we fully open it up.”
OpenAI noted in a blog post that “We do not train on your business data or conversations, and our models don’t learn from your usage,” adding that clients’ conversation data would be encrypted both at transit and at rest. The company does, however, log aggregate data on how the tool is used, including performance metadata and more, as is relatively standard, Lightcap said.
ChatGPT Enterprise’s debut comes as the AI arms race continues to heat up among chatbot leaders such as OpenAI, Microsoft, Google and Anthropic. In an effort to encourage consumers to adopt generative AI into their daily routines, tech giants are racing to launch not only new chatbot apps, but also new features. In May, OpenAI launched its iOS app, followed by the Android app in July. Google is regularly rolling out updates to its Bard chatbot, and Microsoft is doing the same with Bing, introducing features like visual search. Anthropic, the AI startup founded by ex-OpenAI executives, debuted a new AI chatbot, Claude 2, in July, months after raising $750 million over two financing rounds.
When asked how ChatGPT Enterprise compares with Bing Chat Enterprise, Microsoft’s enterprise AI chatbot, an OpenAI representative told CNBC, “This is an OpenAI product independent of Microsoft. That said, we hope our product can work with other tools including Microsoft’s. Customers can choose which platform is right for their business.”
ChatGPT, like many large language models, is expensive to operate, with each chat likely costing OpenAI “single-digit cents,” according to a December tweet by CEO Sam Altman, suggesting that operating the service for 100 million people a month could cost millions of dollars.
The biggest obstacle to ChatGPT Enterprise’s development was figuring out how to prioritize features, Lightcap told CNBC.
Out of all the things shipping in the next couple of months, he said, “the prioritization of how you pulled forward those things based on how people are using the product — and what people really want and what’s empowering — was the topic of a lot of debate, I would say, on the team.”
One concrete example is Code Interpreter, a ChatGPT Plus feature that has since been renamed to Advanced Data Analysis. Lightcap said that the team questioned whether the feature was a priority for ChatGPT Enterprise and that it “sat stack-ranked in a list with a bunch of other things that we think are kind of equally or more exciting,” but companies’ feedback caused them to prioritize offering it sooner rather than later.
OpenAI plans to onboard “as many enterprises as we can over the next few weeks,” per the company’s blog post.