OYO data signals flagging growth at another big Softbank-backed startup
05/13/2020|7:56:34 PM|Thinknum

Before the global pandemic took hold, OYO was one of the potential winners in Softbank's portfolio. The decacorn had recently become the second-largest hotel chain in the world, firmly securing its place as the largest in China and beginning to get a foothold in the US.

But now it's looking grim. As communities shelter-in-place and hotels sit empty, questions are raised about the long-term health of the hospitality industry. Hotel chains have offered vouchers with steep discounts for future visits. Carnival is offering some of its lowest prices ever. Meanwhile, OYO's current numbers continue to shrink before the shadow of its once-explosive growth.

Worldwide, the Indian startup's locations have been closing up shop well before COVID-19 spread to the US. OYO's worldwide locations hit an all-time high of 29,700 just before the new year, but recent counts show they've lost 32 percent down to around 20,000 with the steepest drop off taking place from the end of March to now. 

There is some silver lining for OYO, as its social metrics are holding steady. Twitter followers are up almost 6,000 from January, though App Store ratings and Facebook Likes (not shown) have begun to stagnate as lockdown persists and hotels stay vacant.

Like the much-maligned WeWork it gets compared to, OYO insists that it is not a hotel company or franchising business, but a tech company. That argument is a lot harder to stomach when so many tech companies are still hiring at unprecedented rates during the pandemic and OYO, for now, isn't.

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