OpenAI signs on 100K PwC workers to its ChatGPT enterprise tier, as the consultant becomes its first resale partner | TechCrunch

ChatGPT has changed the game for how ordinary people regard and interact with AI, and today its creator announced a new, 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, has signed on as a customer of OpenAI’s enterprise tier, the AI company’s biggest customer to date, covering 100,000 users. Alongside that, PwC will become OpenAI’s first partner for selling the enterprise edition on to other businesses.

The enterprise tier launched in August 2023, and it’s part of OpenAI’s big swing for monetising its generative AI products, on the back of raising billions of dollars and reaching an $80 billion valuation earlier this year. 

The enterprise tier allows for speedier and unlimited interactions and much more flexibility in building customized models for different use cases, along with more analytics and other tools. 

But as with any enterprise software – and especially with enterprise software that is so different from anything else that businesses might be using today – it will be a big sell for OpenAI to convince companies to make the shift from small and occasional use, or pilot, into a major IT, business process and workforce investment.

“PWC is the first partner that we are leaning into in this way,” said Richard Hasslacher, the company’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 a expansive set of services that customers desperately need to take advantage of in brand new solution category.”

OpenAI last month disclosed that the enterprise tier of ChatGPT had around 600,000 users, which Hasslacher  told TechCrunch this week included 93% of all Fortune 500 companies. He declined to comment on what that worked 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 represent a substantial jump on that number. When – and if – the firm expands the usage to the rest of its footprint globally, that could include 328,000 employees. 

For PwC, the deal underscores how it believes its own business will be evolving, and it also points to what it believes could be its next big growth opportunity for winning new deals for its consulting business.

For its own 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, the idea will be that 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. 

It had to date been building a lot of tooling around the product itself, “but as the technology stack gets better, we can buy versus build more things and then focus more on outcomes, transformation, workflow, use cases, business process, and less on assembling API’s to build an experience for our employees.” 

One of the big questions around a lot of the generative AI hype has been whether it is just that – hype – or whether we will see sustained usage of these services. Greenstein declined to say how much genAI products are being used on a daily basis but instead noted that the education tools it’s built to help train people have had “90%” engagement. 

Perhaps more importantly, on the consulting side, generative AI could represent a major new avenue for companies like PwC when it comes to picking up new business, part of a bigger pitch it makes around “digital transformation,” which has been a major theme in IT.

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

ChatGPT’s self-service version is $30 per user, while the consumer edition is $20 per user. The company does not disclose 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 it’s 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 own reselling partner, but “I think you will be seeing a lot more related to that ecosystem”, he added.

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