Hundreds of CEOs spoke about ChatGPT on earnings calls for the first half of the year

  • ChatGPT has been an “oh crap” moment for every CEO.
  • Analysis of H1 earnings announcements shows a surge in analyst questions to CEOs about AI.
  • Executives from travel agencies to online florists presented hastily created ChatGPT plugins.

For a majority of American businesses, there is currently the world before ChatGPT and the world after.

“I didn’t expect that,” said Michael Beckley, chief technology officer at process automation company Appian.

Beckley was trying to enjoy the rest of his Thanksgiving holiday when AI startup OpenAI opened ChatGPT to the public on November 30th.

Already familiar with artificial intelligence and previous iterations of OpenAI’s previous large language models, Beckley said he immediately recognized it was a big deal.

“I didn’t expect it to matter,” Beckley said in a June interview. “And then it hit over the holidays. You had plenty of time to work with it. And you had that ‘oh crap’ moment.”

“They, like all of us, knew right away that this was the next iPhone moment. Nothing in the world will ever be the same again, the genie will not go back into the bottle.”

Founded in 1999, Appian makes most of its money from companies using its platform to build their own enterprise applications. The company posted a net loss of $36.8 million on revenue of $135 million for the first quarter of the year, compared to a loss of $23.1 million on revenue of $114 million in the same quarter same period in 2022. It’s one of many established tech companies struggling with major disruption from ChatGPT’s sudden popularity. On June 12, Appian announced its “generative AI strategy” in collaboration with ChatGPT maker OpenAI.

Beckley told Insider, “I was just like, ‘Okay, throw away your normal plans and get to work.'”

The company is not alone. An insider analysis of earnings logs from January through June found that top executives from at least 153 companies mentioned ChatGPT, often at the suggestion of analysts wanting to know how companies are using the technology to increase sales or save money. Analysts at investment firm Jefferies estimated in a June note that companies using AI are already seeing 21-36% productivity savings.

Many of those demonstrating new OpenAI integrations were technology-focused companies like Appian. Others had less obvious connections to the AI.

Online florist 1-800 Flowers CEO Chris McCann highlighted during a May results conference call how the company had launched 1-800-Flowers Mom Verse, a ChatGPT-based app for writing personalized poems and Songs for Mother’s Day.

Cowboy boot retailer Boot Barn has added ChatGPT to their in-store touchscreens to advise shoppers on their outfit.

“For example, if a customer is purchasing a pair of women’s western boots, they can now ask for a recommended outfit that goes well with their selection to wear to a country concert, and that recommendation will be.” rendered with a conversational tone and set out, in qualitative terms, why these elements would look good together,” said CEO Jim Conroy, also on a earnings call in May.

The company looking to get the most out of all these new integrations right away is OpenAI itself. The company is privately held and doesn’t disclose financial information. In 2022, the startup reportedly made significant losses due to the cost of creating and running ChatGPT.

“It’s a deafening din from our ecosystem that requires the latest roadmap updates,” Appian’s Beckley said. “Because everyone has to inform their executive team, their customers, their partners, everything has to have it.”

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