OpenAI signs 100K workers to ChatGPT's enterprise tier as PwC becomes its first resale partner

ChatGPT has changed how most people regard and interact with AI, and the tool has been used widely to do everything from create travel itineraries to assisting developers with coding. Now, its creator, OpenAI, on Wednesday announced that it has signed a major enterprise customer that it hopes will be a signal of how a similar effect could play out in the world of work. 

PwC, the management consulting giant, will become OpenAI’s biggest customer to date, covering 100,000 users. Alongside that, the consulting firm will become OpenAI’s first partner for selling the AI company’s enterprise offerings to other businesses.

OpenAi launched ChatGPT’s enterprise tier in August 2023 as part of a big swing to monetize its generative AI products on the back of the billions it has raised to date. The enterprise tier offers faster, unlimited interactions, and is much more flexible for building customized models for different use cases. It also comes with more analytics and other tools. 

But as with any enterprise software, OpenAI will still have to convince companies to make the shift from small and occasional use, or pilots, of its generative AI products and think of it as a major IT, business process and workforce investment.

“PWC is the first partner that we are leaning into in this way,” said Richard Hasslacher, OpenAI’s global head of alliances and partnerships, in an interview. “PwC becomes our largest customer, but they’re also our first partner who’s going to be reselling ChatGPT enterprise… It is penetration into industry verticals, but also providing an expansive set of services that customers desperately need to take advantage of in a brand new solution category.”

OpenAI last month disclosed that ChatGPT’s enterprise tier had around 600,000 users, which according to Hasslacher, includes 93% of all Fortune 500 companies. He declined to disclose what that works out to in terms of engagement time across that user base. 

PwC’s 100,000 employees in the U.S., U.K. and the Middle East would boost that number substantially. When, and if, the firm expands its usage of ChatGPT to the rest of its global operations, that could include 328,000 employees. 

For PwC, the deal underscores how it believes its own business will be evolving as well as the next big growth opportunity for winning new deals for its consulting business.

Bret Greenstein, partner and “generative AI leader” at PwC, waved off the idea that adopting ChatGPT, or any kind of generative AI assistant, will necessarily threaten jobs. Instead, it might let the company grow business on the employee base that it already has without needing to add more people. 

“This is very important for us,” said Greenstein. He added that the firm was an early adopter of ChatGPT, and so moving up to enterprise made sense as it ramped up its own engagement. 

PwC has been building tools around the product itself, “but as the technology stack gets better, we can buy versus build more things. We can then focus more on outcomes, transformation, workflow, use cases, and business process, and less on assembling APIs to build an experience for our employees,” he said. 

One of the big questions around generative AI has been whether it is just hype or if we’ll see sustained usage of these services. Greenstein declined to say how much genAI products are being used on a daily basis at PwC, but noted that the education tools the company has built to help train people have received 90% engagement. 

More importantly, generative AI could represent a major new avenue for consulting firms like PwC for picking up new business — that’s part of a bigger pitch it makes around “digital transformation,” which has been a major theme in IT for years.

“Our clients are going through the same journey, so we’re embarking on a reselling agreement,” he said.

ChatGPT’s self-service version costs $30 per user, while the consumer edition is $20 per user. The company does not disclose enterprise pricing publicly, and neither PwC nor OpenAI would discuss pricing for this article. This thread on Reddit seems to indicate $60 per seat, per month for 150 seats for a year. That runs to a very high number if you do the math for 100,000 users, so my guess is that these rates vary a lot.

OpenAI will still engage with enterprises, but it’s notable that the company is building out this channel strategy to supplement that. 

“Today, we have our own customer success team that will support our customers in the deployment of their genAI solutions,” said Hasslacher. “But we have limited capacity, and that’s really where the partner ecosystem comes into play.” Fow now PwC is its reselling partner, but “I think you will be seeing a lot more related to that ecosystem”, he added.

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