There’s probably no company talked more about today than OpenAI. With groundbreaking generative AI models such as DALL-E, GPT-4, and ChatGPT, OpenAI needed a robust billing solution to manage its rapidly expanding customer base and support its pace of innovation. OpenAI had an existing homegrown billing system, but needed a more reliable and scalable billing foundation in place as it opened the availability of its products.
“Metronome has been an essential billing partner on our journey to bring the world products loved by millions of developers. They’ve been indispensable during this time of rapid growth,” said Peter Welinder, VP of Products and Partnerships, OpenAI
Key outcomes from the partnership include:
- A robust billing system implemented in just a few weeks.
- Comprehensive support for a self-serve, pay-as-you-go model at extreme scale, and a complex enterprise motion with bespoke enterprise contracts.
- Infrastructure that enables OpenAI’s business to match the speed of its innovation. Metronome’s platform supports efficient changes to pricing and packaging within a few hours.
- Freeing up engineering resources to focus on OpenAI’s core products and empowering business users to make pricing changes on their own. OpenAI has scaled their business and billing system without dedicated billing engineering resourcing.
In 2021, OpenAI recognized the necessity for a scalable billing infrastructure to match its swift pace of innovation and growth. Initially, OpenAI had an in-house billing system which involved maintenance of custom scripts and manual labor for tracking usage and invoicing customers.
Lauren Workman, Senior Manager of Revenue Operations, shared, “I’ve been part of OpenAI’s commercial operations from the beginning, and I experienced firsthand how painfully manual it was to change pricing and add in new products before Metronome.”
Pricing and packaging management was time-consuming and would not scale with the launch of new products and an expanding enterprise customer base.
Evan Morikawa, who leads OpenAI's Applied Engineering team, highlighted the challenge: "We didn’t have the flexibility and customization to support usage-based pricing or enterprise contract complexity.”
OpenAI adopted Metronome for its billing platform due to its ease of deployment and comprehensive support for OpenAI's business models. Metronome’s real-time data streaming was instrumental for a rapid integration; OpenAI was up and running with Metronome in production in less than two weeks. Additionally, Metronome’s platform allowed OpenAI to manage both self-serve and enterprise use cases effectively.
Evan shared, “Metronome was the obvious choice. We had to do very, very little to the data stream in order to make Metronome work right off the bat. We were already streaming events into our database, and we were able to tilt the firehose to Metronome and have it automagically work.”
Automated plan management and invoicing for self-serve plans
OpenAI provides free credits to new users with usage-based, pay-as-you-go pricing. Metronome assists in the customer creation flow and entitlements process and manages tracking product usage and credit consumption for millions of users.
Enterprise contract management without engineering effort
For enterprise contracts, Revenue Operations is able to take advantage of Metronome’s UI and workflows to create customers, manage plans, and set customer-specific alerting without engineering support. Metronome also supports all pricing models, so OpenAI has the flexibility to offer subscription, consumption, and hybrid pricing to customers.
Ability to launch new products and pricing quickly, with automated billing
In just a few weeks, OpenAI had a robust billing system in place that supports complex enterprise contracts and a self-serve, pay-as-you-go model. The system allows OpenAI to keep pace with multiple product launches per month, enabling pricing and packaging updates within hours.
“Metronome freed me up to focus on the strategic pieces of pricing rollouts because the billing mechanics were handled. I can make pricing changes in Metronome’s UI in less than an hour with no engineering resources. Before Metronome, this would have been a painfully manual process,” said Lauren.
Resource optimization that drives business value
By adopting Metronome, OpenAI was able to move critical engineering resources from billing to core product development. Metronome also significantly streamlined invoice management for OpenAI. The revenue operations team went from spending hours each month managing invoicing in Excel to making changes in minutes in the Metronome UI. Metronome’s user-friendly interface has empowered OpenAI operational teams to manage customers, pricing, products, and reporting efficiently on their own.
Accurate and real-time usage data for internal teams and millions of customers
Internal teams at OpenAI are able to leverage usage data from Metronome to understand customer behavior and adoption. OpenAI also powers their customer dashboards with Metronome’s APIs to give customers daily usage visibility. Customers can track daily usage and credit consumption at the organizational and individual user level.
"Metronome is the single source of truth for consumption-based data. Keeping data in sync at the volumes we have with the messiness of engineering systems is effectively impossible. Having a consolidated source of record with Metronome is critical to powering our understanding of our customers, our operational workflows, and providing customer transparency,” said Evan.
The close partnership between OpenAI and Metronome has enabled OpenAI to launch new products, iterate quickly on pricing and packaging, and scale its business to tens of millions of users. With Metronome’s alerting functionality, OpenAI powers frictionless free trials and enables users to better manage their spending by setting hard and soft spend limits.
“The Metronome partnership has been a dream. Metronome has kept pace with us and stood alongside us in a very positive and forward-looking way,” said Lauren. “It’s evident that the team really cares about our success, and we’ve had a five-star experience with them.”
The Metronome team’s dedicated support ensures they stay in lock step with the OpenAI team’s needs and priorities–for both business and engineering stakeholders.
Metronome was the catalyst that enabled OpenAI to effortlessly scale its billing infrastructure, matching the company’s rapid innovation and growth. By freeing engineering resources and empowering business users, OpenAI could focus on its core objectives of launching revolutionary products. The partnership between OpenAI and Metronome epitomizes the transformative power of a robust billing solution in propelling a business to new heights.
If you’re interested in learning more about Metronome and how we can support your billing needs, you can contact us here.