Dec 19, 2023

OpenAI Won't Build Any More Consumer Products Other Than ChatGPT

Sam Altman, the erudite cofounder and chief executive of OpenAI, has a message for software developers that should set them at ease: The company has no plans to roll out any more consumer-facing products like ChatGPT, according to a now taken-down blog post by a startup founder who attended a private meeting with Altman.

Altman has been on a world tour to allay people's worst fears about artificial intelligence and to hear from developers and users of OpenAI's product. On a stop in London in May, he met behind closed doors with a small group of developers and startup founders, giving them a sneak peek at OpenAI's roadmap and biggest challenges.

Yet the conversation became public when Raza Habib, an attendee who is also the cofounder and CEO of Humanloop, a Y Combinator-backed startup that helps businesses build apps on top of large language models, blogged an account of the private meeting. The original blog post has since been taken down, but that hasn't stopped people from passing around a copy on an internet-archiving site. Fortune first reported on the leak.

In 2020, OpenAI released its large language models for developers to purchase and bake into their apps. Ever since, developers have been worried that the company might roll out its own competing products.

Now, the artificial-intelligence juggernaut wants to reassure its customers that it's not coming to eat their lunch.

"Quite a few developers said they were nervous about building with the OpenAI APIs when OpenAI might end up releasing products that are competitive to them," Habib wrote in his blog post. "Sam said that OpenAI would not release more products beyond ChatGPT. He said there was a history of great platform companies having a killer app and that ChatGPT would allow them to make the APIs better by being customers of their own product."

Among other things on Altman's mind was the worrying lack of GPUs, the specialized computer chips that help power AI software, according to Habib's blog post. That shortage is reportedly stalling many of OpenAI's short-term plans, which include improving the reliability and speed of OpenAI's API.

OpenAI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

OpenAI's large language models are now baked into hundreds of apps, making it one of the key levers that help companies and their developers be more productive.

Software developers could build the infrastructure themselves, but doing so could take years of development, a rare source of engineering talent, and millions of dollars in computing costs. Instead, many rent a model from a third-party provider, just like they pay Amazon Web Services to store data and Stripe to process payments.

The unicorn startup Jasper is one such customer of OpenAI. It makes a smart writing assistant, powered by OpenAI's large language model, which Jasper customers pay a monthly fee to use. But its approach started to show cracks after OpenAI released ChatGPT, which can also help with copyediting, for free. Jasper told The Information that it added new features and purchased a browser-extension company to flesh out its value and hold on to users.

In the private meeting, Habib said Altman described his vision for ChatGPT as a "super smart assistant for work" that "wouldn't touch" many other use cases.

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