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ChatGPT share sale — could parent company OpenAI go public this year?

Bryan Wu
Bryan Wu • 3 min read
ChatGPT share sale — could parent company OpenAI go public this year?
OpenAI was reportedly in funding talks with venture capital firms Thrive Capital and Founders Fund for a private tender sale of shares as of January. Photo: Bloomberg
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Parent company of AI chatbot ChatGPT, OpenAI, could go public this year, according to IG Group’s financial writer Kelvin Ong.

While there has not been any direct talk of an initial public offering (IPO), Ong says that as of January, OpenAI was reportedly in funding talks with venture capital firms Thrive Capital and Founders Fund for a private tender sale of shares.

The tender sale, in which investors would buy shares from existing shareholders such as employees, could amount to a total of US$300 million ($403.15 million). This would value the company at US$29 billion, double its value in 2021, says the financial writer.

In terms of projected earnings, Reuters reported in December 2022 that OpenAI is expecting to rake in US$200 million in revenue in 2023 and US$1 billion in 2024.

Microsoft also announced a US$10 billion multi-year investment into the AI-focused research, development and deployment company in January 2023.

OpenAI was established in 2015 by a group of investors who collectively pledged over US$1 billion towards the venture, with the aim of “building safe and beneficial artificial general intelligence for all humanity”. The San Francisco-based research company started out as a non-profit entity, before transitioning into a “capped for-profit” model, with 100 times the investment amount, in 2019.

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Its AI chatbot ChatGPT uses a machine learning technique called reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF), in which it mimics and produces human-like written communication, such as essays, emails and poems, based on rounds of trained language models and real-time instructions provided by end-human users.

The first, free version of ChatGPT, which was based on an earlier programme called InstructGPT, was launched in November 2022. A second and stabler public version was released on February 13 this year. A premium version, which gives subscribers “priority” access and “faster response times” even during peak hours, is also available at US$20 a month.

The service accumulated over 100 million users by January 2023, making it the fastest-growing consumer application in history.

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ChatGPT’s potential use cases include answering customer queries, conducting research, writing unique copy, providing a different search engine experience and as a training and development tool.

However, according to Ong, ChatGPT’s developers have acknowledged that there are still several limitations with the service, including writing plausible-sounding but “incorrect or nonsensical” answers, an inconsistency with answering questions with slightly different phrasings and displaying bias to certain “inappropriate” or “harmful” requests and instructions.

External researchers have also found other problems, such as being an inaccurate tool for the detection of academic plagiarism, a lack of updated references, being politically biased and coming up with identical write-ups for identical requests.

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