Who Owns ChatGPT?

Mukund Kapoor
By Mukund Kapoor - Author 10 Min Read
10 Min Read

Find out who owns ChatGPT and How It Started!

In Short
  • OpenAI owns the ChatGPT technology, and users own the content generated by the platform. OpenAI transitioned from a non-profit to a "capped-profit" business model in 2019.
  • Microsoft has invested heavily in OpenAI but does not own or control ChatGPT or OpenAI. They are significant partners, with Microsoft being the only cloud provider for OpenAI.
  • Elon Musk, a co-founder of OpenAI, stepped down from its board in 2018 due to conflicts of interest with Tesla and possibly differing views on AI ethics. He is no longer financially contributing to OpenAI.

Wondering who owns ChatGPT?

In short, ChatGPT is owned by OpenAI, a company that’s a big name in the world of artificial intelligence. OpenAI, the ChatGPT owner, began in November 2015 in San Francisco.


If you want to know everything about the company behind ChatGPT and its owner, read further to find all the information you need.

Who Owns ChatGPT

Who Owns ChatGPT
Image credits: Anonymous

ChatGPT is owned by OpenAI, a leading company in artificial intelligence research and development. OpenAI was initially founded as a non-profit organization in 2015 but transitioned into a “capped-profit1” model in 2019. As of my last update in September 2021, Sam Altman serves as the CEO of OpenAI and is among its co-founders.

OpenAI’s ownership of ChatGPT extends to the technology behind the platform, which is based on the GPT-4 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 4) model.

However, the company does not claim ownership of the content users generate using ChatGPT.

According to OpenAI’s terms of use, users are free to use the content generated for both personal and commercial purposes, effectively granting them ownership of this generated content.

It’s important to note that while you may own the content generated by ChatGPT, submitting it as your work in an academic context could be against university policies.

Educational institutions are still grappling with the implications of AI-generated writing and may employ AI detection tools to identify such content.

Ownership Structure of OpenAI

OpenAI consists of two major entities: OpenAI Incorporated, a non-profit organization, and OpenAI LP, a for-profit subsidiary.

The company was initially conceived with a mission to ensure that artificial general intelligence (AGI) would be developed in a way that benefits humanity at large.

Since the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022, OpenAI has diversified its offerings to include tiered software services, namely ChatGPT Plus and ChatGPT Enterprise, while maintaining a free version of the platform.

The board of OpenAI Inc. has included individuals such as Greg Brockman, Ilya Sutskever, Sam Altman, Adam D’Angelo, Tasha McCauley, Helen Toner, Wojciech Zaremba, and John Schulman.

The executive board of OpenAI LP features key personnel like Sam Altman (CEO), Greg Brockman (President), Ilya Sutskever (Chief Scientist), Mira Murati (CTO), and Brad Lightcap (COO).

EntityTypeMissionOfferingsKey Personnel
OpenAI IncorporatedNon-profit OrganizationDevelop artificial general intelligence (AGI) to benefit humanityOriginally research-focusedGreg Brockman, Ilya Sutskever, Sam Altman, Adam D’Angelo, Tasha McCauley, Helen Toner, Wojciech Zaremba, John Schulman
OpenAI LPFor-profit SubsidiaryComplement OpenAI Incorporated’s mission by generating revenue to fund researchChatGPT, ChatGPT Plus, ChatGPT EnterpriseSam Altman (CEO), Greg Brockman (President), Ilya Sutskever (Chief Scientist), Mira Murati (CTO), Brad Lightcap (COO)
This table encapsulates the two major entities within OpenAI, their mission, offerings, and the people who have been key in shaping their direction.

How ChatGPT Was Created

In late November 2022, OpenAI released a “research preview” of ChatGPT2. Developed in-house by a dedicated team of researchers and scientists, this AI chatbot was launched with modest expectations.

The team, including experts like Sandhini Agarwal, who works on policy at OpenAI, and Liam Fedus, a scientist who contributed to the chatbot’s development, initially viewed ChatGPT as a way to test and improve an existing two-year-old technology by gathering public feedback.

“We didn’t want to oversell it as a big fundamental advance,” says Liam Fedus3.

Despite the under-the-radar launch, ChatGPT quickly gained viral traction. Even the creators were taken aback by the explosive growth and mainstream popularity. “We work on these models so much, we forget how surprising they can be for the outside world sometimes,” commented Sandhini Agarwal.

OpenAI cofounder John Schulman noted the flood of ChatGPT screenshots filling up social media feeds just days after the release.

The chatbot became a phenomenon almost overnight, redefining what users expected from AI-based interactions.

Behind the Scenes

OpenAI had already been at the forefront of language model development, with generative pre-trained transformers (GPTs) forming the cornerstone of their research.

GPT models 1,2 and 3
Image Credits / Research Gate4

Each iteration of these GPT models brought about substantial advancements in natural language understanding capabilities:

  • GPT-1: Launched in June 2018, it was the pioneer model with 117 million parameters, trained in unsupervised learning tasks.
  • GPT-2: Introduced in February 2019 with a dramatic upgrade to 1.5 billion parameters, it was initially not released to the public due to concerns about misuse. However, it was eventually made available in November 2019.
  • GPT-3: A quantum leap released in June 2020, with 175 billion parameters. It became widely used for many applications, from drafting emails to writing articles and creating poetry.

These foundational models provided the architecture for ChatGPT.

Who Owns OpenAI

OpenAI is owned by a group of investors, including Microsoft, Khosla Ventures, and Reid Hoffman, who are all well-known names. The exact framework of who owns the company is not known to the public, but it is known that some of the original founders also have shares in the business.

OpenAI started out as a non-profit group in 2015, but it has since changed into a for-profit business with a capped-profit model. This means it can now make money instead of relying on donations and investments.

OpenAI went from being a charity to a for-profit company to get enough money to support its rapidly growing operations.

Because of its unique capped-profit framework, the group continues to put its research mission ahead of making as much money as possible.

Microsoft has invested a lot of money, giving $1 billion in 2019 and $10 billion more in 2023. Even though OpenAI is for-profit, it still has fiduciary duties aligning with its original nonprofit goals.

It’s important to know that the company comprises two different but connected parts: the nonprofit OpenAI Inc. and the for-profit OpenAI L.P.

OpenAI Inc. is still the controlling shareholder of OpenAI L.P., ensuring that the company stays true to its goal of making “safe and beneficial” artificial general intelligence.

Is Microsoft the Owner of ChatGPT

2019 Microsoft invested $1 billion in OpenAI, and in 2021, the company added another $1 billion. This means that Microsoft does not own ChatGPT, but is a partner as it has invested the most in the company.

The partnership between OpenAI and Microsoft was extended in January 2023, with Microsoft announcing a $10 billion investment in OpenAI.

Microsoft will deploy GPT models throughout its products and develop new categories of products built on the technology, such as the Azure OpenAI Service, thanks to the alliance, which guarantees that Microsoft’s Azure will remain the only cloud provider for OpenAI.

Though Microsoft owns ChatGPT, the accusations that it essentially controls OpenAI because it owns OpenAI are unfounded.

Why Elon Musk Left as ChatGPT’s Co-Founder

In 2018, Elon Musk resigned from OpenAI’s board of directors because he saw potential conflicts of interest with his work as CEO of Tesla, particularly about Tesla’s own AI development for self-driving cars.

At the time, Sam Altman, another board member, allegedly said that Musk feared OpenAI was falling behind other significant competitors like Google in artificial intelligence. Musk allegedly offered to take over OpenAI himself, but the board shot down the notion.

Elon Musk claimed to still be a donor to OpenAI after he left the board, however, it has been said that he stopped giving money to the organization after he left.

Given his early involvement and high profile, Musk’s resignation was notable. Still, it was widely understood to be an effort to avoid potential conflicts of interest brought on by Tesla’s growing interest in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, in particular for its self-driving vehicle initiatives.

Despite Musk’s claim that he “didn’t agree with some of what the OpenAI team wanted to do,” the details of their disputes remain unclear.

Given Musk’s vocal worries about the existential hazards posed by AI, it’s plausible that OpenAI’s handling of ethical issues related to AI had a role in his decision to leave.

In line with Musk’s overall cautious position on AI, OpenAI, for example, decided not to disclose the fully-trained version of GPT-2 out of concerns about the technology’s potential for misuse.

  1. OpenAI LP. (n.d.). https://openai.com/blog/openai-lp ↩︎
  2.  TechCrunch is part of the Yahoo family of brands. (2022, December 2). https://techcrunch.com/2022/12/02/openais-chatgpt-shows-why-implementation-is-key-with-generative-ai/ ↩︎


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By Mukund Kapoor Author
Mukund Kapoor, the enthusiastic author and creator of GreatAIPrompts, is driven by his passion for all things AI. With a special knack for simplifying complex AI concepts, he's committed to helping readers of all levels - be it beginners or experts - navigate the intriguing world of artificial intelligence. Through GreatAIPrompts, Mukund ensures that readers always have access to the most recent and relevant AI news, tools, and insights. His dedication to quality, accuracy, and clarity is what sets his blog apart, making it a reliable go-to source for anyone interested in unlocking the potential of AI. For more information visit Author Bio.
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