Last week, OpenAI’s chat bot ChatGPT launched, immediately creating a big splash on the internet. At launch, users were able to use the bot to retrieve information, create computer code, and more. After playing with the bot, many users speculated that it could disrupt big tech companies. Some found it better than Google Search for answering programming questions, while others found that it could be used to effectively cheat on university exams.
So, what’s ChatGPT, and why is it so disruptive?
ChatGPT is a chatbot — a computer program that you “talk to” by typing text. There are many ways to interact with ChatGPT; the main one is to ask it questions, to which it provides quick, detailed answers. The bot uses artificial intelligence (AI) to generate text, computer code, and more. These are all things that people traditionally used search engines for, so now, people think that search-related companies are about to be disrupted.
In this article, I will explore two tech stocks that could be disrupted if ChatGPT becomes as big as people think it will.
Open Text (TSX:OTEX) is a Canadian tech company that has a number of different services related to text and data. Not all of the company’s use cases intersect with ChatGPT, but a few do. For example, OTEX’s Intelligent Capture service is all about taking raw data and turning it into a more coherent, presentable format. This is something that ChatGPT can do very well.
Another thing Open Text does is text mining. “Mining” refers to using software to go through the text and find keywords and big concepts. Open Text does this with Magellan Text Mining, which is part of its paid enterprise services. ChatGPT can do it for free.
None of this is to say that ChatGPT is going to make OTEX’s services fully obsolete. I just mentioned two OTEX services that overlap with ChatGPT’s capabilities somewhat; there are other OTEX services that have nothing in common with ChatGPT. Nevertheless, ChatGPT can definitely do a lot of language and data mining services for free. In theory, this type of thing is a competitive threat to a company like OTEX that is involved in text data analytics.
Some of Google’s services, like YouTube and Android, are not affected negatively by ChatGPT. One, however, is: Google Search.
Shortly after ChatGPT launched, people on Twitter started commenting that it was going to put Google Search out of business. It produced complete answers to complex questions, and, in some cases, generated working computer programs. Searching for information is the main thing people use Google Search for, so there is a chance that it will lose some of its lustre to ChatGPT.
With that said, the scale of competition between Google Search and ChatGPT can be overstated. ChatGPT can’t search the internet, nor can it access any information published after 2021. It is not supported by ads, and it doesn’t work well for product searches. Google’s bread and butter is selling ads relevant to things that people search for. On a revenue level, ChatGPT doesn’t compete with Google at all. It does compete with Google when it comes to pure information-based searches, though, so it’s a competitive threat for investors to keep in mind.