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January 11, 2023updated 12 Jan 2023 10:58am

ChatGPT professional? OpenAI explores monetisation options for popular chatbot

A professional version of the wildly popular chatbot is in the works, though how it will function is unclear.

By Ryan Morrison

OpenAI’s powerful natural language AI chatbot ChatGPT has been accessed millions of times since its launch in November, with internet users rushing to take advantage of the system’s ability to write long, complex and accurate prose. It has so far been free to deploy and branded a “research preview” by OpenAI, but the company is now considering ways to make money from the platform. The power of ChatGPT gives OpenAI a “lot of leverage” over the price it can charge to access its chatbot.

Artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT has become an essential workflow tool for many creatives (Photo: Iryna Imago/Shutterstock)
Artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT has become an essential workflow tool for many creatives. (Photo by Iryna Imago/Shutterstock)

President and co-founder of OpenAI, Greg Brockman revealed his company’s plans on Twitter, sharing a link to a waiting list and registration form for a professional version of ChatGPT that “will offer high limits and faster performance”.

ChatGPT has been struggling under the weight of hundreds of thousands of requests from users creating reports, essays and even code. OpenAI has been forced to implement usage limits, introduce a queuing system during busy times and other methods to minimise demand.

This includes an onscreen message declaring: “We’re experiencing exceptionally high demand. Please hang tight as we work on scaling our systems.”

The exact mechanism OpenAI will use to monetise the platform is unclear. It could follow a similar approach used for its other GPT-3-based tools, including charging a set price for every few thousand tokens used in a request. However, responding to a question on Twitter, Brockman said this wasn’t the approach they planned to take, explaining it would have “no connection to API usage”.

ChatGPT professional: OpenAI studies pricing options

OpenAI’s waiting list request form asks how ChatGPT is being used, the most valuable thing it will be used for and questions on pricing. This includes gaging a ‘high and low’ point where a user would consider it too expensive or so low the quality would suffer.

There is also a question on where the price point is “expensive, so that it is not out of the question, but you would have to give some thought to buying it” and the point where it is a “great buy for the money”. The final question in the form is a rating from one to five on how upset the user would be if they were no longer able to use ChatGPT.

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It says that as part of the “professional version” program, OpenAI plans to give a small number of hand-selected users access to a version that is “always available (no blackout windows)”, including “fast responses from ChatGPT (ie no throttling)”, and “as many messages as you need.”

If selected, one of the new “professional users” will be contacted for payment information as part of the pilot which will run independently of their normal OpenAI account, but comes with the warning that “this is an early experimental program that is subject to change, and we are not making paid pro access generally available at this time”.

The move to monetise the massively popular ChatGPT comes as OpenAI looks to raise billions of dollars in a funding round that will value the business at $29bn, based largely on the potential of ChatGPT and the large language AI model that underpins it, GPT-3. Microsoft, which has already invested in OpenAI and runs ChatGPT on its Azure cloud platform, is said to be ready to pump an additional $10bn into the company, according to reports on Tuesday.

ChatGPT commercial use cases could drive subscriptions

Nick Swan, founder of online search consultancy SEOTesting said the success of ChatGPT professional will come down to the price point. The power of ChatGPT gives OpenAI a “lot of leverage,” when it comes to setting that price, he says. “For prominent eCommerce stores, a tool which is able to ‘remember’ all of its customer interactions and instantly generate a bespoke response based on a prompt (a customer’s query) would be a huge development.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see casual users offered a limited amount of free uses, possibly per month, before needing to subscribe to the service, while businesses will be given a discounted rate for a premium service. This would be similar to various other models, such as AI image generation as well as online journalism.”

GPT-3 gave this suggestion to its creators: “One way OpenAI can monetise ChatGPT is by offering subscription-based services for businesses. Companies could pay a fee to access the technology, use it to create custom natural language processing models, and use it to power their chatbot and customer service platforms.”

Content and marketing expert Veronica Pullen told Tech Monitor there are clear benefits to even small businesses, describing it as an important tool as it can be used to kick start a new idea or build the start of a copywriting project. “To get ChatGPT to truly work for you, you need to learn how to interrogate it effectively. And that’s a case of testing and trying again, improving your results over time.”

She plans to incorporate ChatGPT prompt creation as an additional service for copy and content mentoring clients “to help them interrogate AI effectively to write their first draft so they never have to start from scratch”.

One example of commercial use for the tool could see “the original tester put together a pdf of all the questions and prompts they asked the software that created the best copy outputs, show examples and explain the theory,” said Pullen. Adding that “other business owners will pay for this info as it means they won’t have to do the leg work themselves.”

Read more: ChatGPT could be integrated into Microsoft’s Bing search engine

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