Google was right to be worried: OpenAI reportedly wants to enter the search market

OpenAI is even poaching Google employees to do it.
Written by Don Reisinger, Contributing Writer
AI overviews from Google
Artie Beaty/ZDNET

OpenAI has designs to take on Google in the search market. The AI startup is even hiring Google employees to pull off the feat, according to a new report.

OpenAI is secretly building a new search platform that would directly compete with Google Search and Microsoft's Bing, Bloomberg is reporting, citing a person who claims to have knowledge of the startup's plans. The search feature would be baked into ChatGPT and let you ask questions like you already do in Google's search box. The platform would then deliver results, along with cited sources and in some cases, images next to text results to provide more context, according to the report.

Google has dominated the search game for decades, providing a superior experience for those who want to get answers to questions, find solutions to their problems, or just expand their knowledge. While plenty of companies have tried to topple Google, not one has been successful.

Also: ChatGPT vs. Microsoft Copilot vs. Gemini: Which is the best AI chatbot?

OpenAI has the potential to forge a different path thanks to its massive repository of data, exceptional compute power, and large language models (LLMs). With millions of people around the globe already using its ChatGPT tool to get answers to burning questions, search seems like an obvious use case.

That said, building a search platform isn't easy. OpenAI is thus actively hiring Google employees who work on the company's search team, The Verge is reporting, citing a (presumably separate) source. The Verge didn't say how many employees OpenAI has been able to woo.

For its part, Google is well aware that OpenAI and Perplexity, a startup that offers AI-powered search, are coming for the company's main offering. Just last month, Google search boss Prabhakar Raghavan urged his team to move faster and be more agile, as the company must acknowledge "things have changed." He noted, "it's not like life is going to be hunky-dory, forever," according to CNBC. "If there's a clear and present market reality, we need to twitch faster, like the athletes twitch faster."

Neither of the reports said when OpenAI could take the search fight to Google. If the reports are accurate and OpenAI is indeed planning to offer a search service, however, timing an announcement to coincide with Google's I/O developer conference next week would certainly send a message.

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