- Startup Rabbithole
- How ChatGPT got to 1 billion monthly visitors
How ChatGPT got to 1 billion monthly visitors
How ChatGPT got to 1 billion monthly visitors
ChatGPT became the fastest growing app in history. Note: this was not written by ChatGPT.
Through a combination of its user experience and technology, it took over the world via product-led growth. Here’s how:
1) They genuinely disrupted the competitive incumbents with simple UX (Google search) that no one saw coming.
ChatGPT has one of the most simple and straightforward user experiences of any consumer product. You write a prompt or ask a question, and it responds with a thorough and well-researched answer.
It provided value from day one and opened doors for a multitude of use cases. Immediately, it helped engineers build quicker. It helped marketers write copy quicker. It gave recipe ideas. It provided complex analogies. You can have conversations with ChatGPT and get great feedback. Today, ChatGPT genuinely struggles to not provide a satisfactory answer to fair prompts and questions.
Whenever a product plays with the notion of time and finds a way to give more back of it to end users, it will succeed.
Google and other competitors have since not been able to release a comparable product competitive to ChatGPT specifically. This release will go down in history in terms of UX, technology, and disruption.
2) The “Aha” moment was instantaneous.
ChatGPT is at the pinnacle of human-computer interaction. Product and design are about getting the customer to their “Aha” moment. Often, product and design teams need to find out through discovery and research what a user’s “Aha” moment is. For ChatGPT, it was instantaneous. As soon as you prompted ChatGPT or asked it a question, you were amazed as a customer.
OpenAI did not need a modern visual design and UI to achieve this. They focused on the customer problem and creating value to solving it as immediately as possible to get them to their “Aha” moment. They disrupted modern norms for visual design. This is a textbook example of how user experience and the underlying technology can be enough to create disruptive product that can change the world.
3) They had strong partnerships from the get-go, partnering with incumbents across industries like Microsoft and Bain.
The aspect of building and designing products that is often overlooked are the partnerships needed in order to truly echo your impact throughout an ecosystem. OpenAI partnered with the likes of Microsoft to keep its service running as well as to revolutionize Microsoft’s software stack: the Office suite and beyond.
Microsoft helped bring ChatGPT to the masses and played a role in keeping the product thriving through potential challenges it would face early on.
ChatGPT also partnered with one of the consulting world’s incumbents, Bain & Company, in order to bring ChatGPT to the masses in B2B. These firms will provide a strong use case for ChatGPT in the services it provides to clients.
4) Sam Altman was a partner at Y Combinator and knew the start-up game in-and-out. He knew how to build products and how to sell them.
Sam Altman knew everything from Startup School, ranging from product design to growth to engineering at startups. He knew How to Start a Startup and how to make one succeed.
In his time as President of Y Combinator, Sam Altman led efforts around incubating some of the world’s most disrusptive companies and got to see a nuanced as well as bird’s-eye view of the top emerging technology trends. This is where he found opportunity.
OpenAI is what stood out in his mind and became an effort he had to pursue. ChatGPT was not being built in the ways he saw by other startups, so he knew he had to make it happen.
5) Internationalization was embedded into ChatGPT from Day One.
Often, software products and companies start in one country and then expand into other countries. The unique aspect of ChatGPT was that internationalization was built into its product from day one. Meaning, anyone in any world would be able to use ChatGPT. ChatGPT does anything from translating languages to writing speeches in different languages to knowing specific cultural norms in different parts of the world.
There is no better way to bring a product to the masses by launching its user experience in a way that would work with anyone from anywhere. When building and designing products of your own, inclusivity and expansion potential are key to making your product as impactful and engaging as it can be.
6) It is free to use.
ChatGPT was a disruptive moment in technology history about accessibility. The product-led growth of ChatGPT was empowered by the fact that ChatGPT provided a free version of the product, without ads, to anyone who wanted to use it. It provided a distinguishable alternative to Google Search and other AI tools.
All that was required to use ChatGPT was an interface and internet connection. OpenAI showed how open AI can be when ChatGPT was launched.
7) It has a simple name and domain name: chat.openai.com
OpenAI did an amazing job naming ChatGPT. It kept it simple, and it the same time it made the world aware of the GPT it had been training for so long. When designing products, it is important to think of the value proposition of the name of every feature or product that you build. Further, it is important to keep it simple. ChatGPT is an easy to say name and memorable. Anyone can say it, and anyone can remember it.
8) In a generation where everything is clippable (YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, TikTok), ChatGPT’s experience sold itself to broad bases.
UGC made TikTok go viral. ChatGPT was built so effectively that they were able to find influencers to promote the product for free without asking influencers themselves. Influencers shared their learning and “Aha” moments with everyone online. Everyone wanted to talk about ChatGPT. Word of mouth and UGC were byproducts of ChatGPT’s release. Anytime anyone found something interesting, they shared it as an Instagram Reel, a YouTube Short, or a TikTok video.
Now, when building products, you need to think about how your product can sell itself. Product builders and designers need to think through how user-generated content can be made and how to get customers to their “Aha” moment as quick as possible. They need to know within seconds, not minutes, of how a product or feature can provide value.
Also, you did not need to see much marketing from OpenAI itself. That is the key takeaway. Users themselves made content across all platforms in a short and concise way to understand. Regardless of your knowledge of technology and background, you were interested in ChatGPT.
9) It was the first widely-relatable use case of AI.
No one really widely knew the use cases of AI. If you asked five individuals what AI could do before ChatGPT came out, chances are, they each would give five very different answers. Whenever there is a shroud of mystery, there is an opportunity to build and design.
It was the first application of AI at scale where humans could have humanlike conversations with a form of intelligence that is not human.
10) It is consistent.
ChatGPT has a consistent feedback loop, either it can answer your prompt or it can help you decide to re-prompt your original prompt. The experience of ChatGPT from a design and product standpoint was relatively consistent regardless of what you do. The “MVP” has been clear and straightforward.
ChatGPT also has been consistent from a technology standpoint. It was able to scale its technology to handle such a large userbase. Despite having tens of millions to hundreds of millions of users in a short span of time, the core platform did not see signs of wavering. ChatGPT did not get shut down, and there were no situations yet that brought on too many major red flags.
The edge cases when designing ChatGPT were well thought-through, and much effort and time was put into ensuring the best release of its product to the masses.