ChatGPT's wild first year

The OpenAI chatbot's titanic rise since its public debut

OpenAI recently celebrated the first anniversary of the public debut of its artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT, and what a year it was.

The AI startup launched in 2015 existed in relative obscurity until the release of ChatGPT. Now, the AI tool, company, and CEO Sam Altman are all household names.

ChatGPT OpenAI

ChatGPT recently celebrated its first birthday, marking the end of an eventful year since its public debut. (LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Here are some highlights of ChatGPT's titanic rise:

The launch

ChatGPT was developed by OpenAI as part of a strategy to build AI software. On November 30, 2022, ChatGPT was officially launched by OpenAI.

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Microsoft, OpenAI’s strategic partner, unveiled a $10 billion investment into OpenAI in January 2023. In February 2023, ChatGPT was available for users on Bing’s search engine.

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Meteoric adoption

A UBS study released on Feb. 1 estimated that ChatGPT had reached 100 million active users in January – just two months after its launch – making it the fastest-growing consumer application in history.

For comparison, it took Tiktok nine months to reach 100 million users following its global launch, and it took Instagram 2 ½ years, according to Sensor Tower data.

OpenAI, Altman in the spotlight

After OpenAI released its deep learning model GPT-4, another advancement on ChatGPT, more than 2,000 tech experts and leaders across the world signed a letter in late March calling for a pause on research at AI labs, specifically demanding an immediate "pause for at least 6 months" on "the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4."

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In May, Altman, who co-founded OpenAI, called on Congress to require companies to obtain a federal license prior to developing advanced AI technology like his organization's ChatGPT.

Sam Altman, chief executive officer and co-founder of OpenAI

Sam Altman, chief executive officer and co-founder of OpenAI, speaks during during a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. (Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

"We think that regulatory intervention by governments will be critical to mitigate the risks of increasingly powerful models," Altman said in his high-profile testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law.

The money rolls in

According to a report from The Information in October, Altman told staff OpenAI is now raking in more than $100 million per month, putting it on pace to generate revenue of $1.3 billion annually.

The company's revenue for all of 2022 was just $28 million, the outlet reported.

A dramatic public power struggle

In the days leading up to ChatGPT's first birthday last month, OpenAI's board fired Altman in a shock move, triggering a power struggle that played out in the press.

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Altman was terminated on Friday, Nov. 17, and by the following Sunday, Microsoft had already hired him to lead an advanced AI team at the tech giant. 

But his ouster sparked an employee revolt at OpenAI, with nearly all the startup's 770 employees signing a letter sent to the board the following Monday, threatening to quit and follow Altman to Microsoft if he was not reinstated as CEO.

Two days later, OpenAI announced it would bring Altman back to lead the company, and three of the four board members who participated in firing him found themselves removed and replaced by high-profile figures, tech titan Bret Taylor and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.

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The outcome elevated both OpenAI's and Altman's profiles even further.

FOX News' Gabriele Regalbuto, FOX Business' Emma Colton and Reuters contributed to this report.