Before the global pandemic took hold, OYO ($PRIVATE:OYOROOMS) 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.
A huge portion of OYO's hotels are located in China and India, two of the first countries to have outbreaks of COVID-19. There are currently around 500 locations in Hubei Province, where the novel coronavirus originated. On the American front, OYO had just gotten a foothold on the west coast, opening its first 34 hotels as of June 2019. It continued to expand outwards and reached an all-time high last month at 340 locations — but that number has since started to slowly roll back down largely because of COVID-19 but also possibly because of legal issues over whether or not the company offered franchises without state approval.
OYO's workforce felt the impact of COVID-19 fast and hard. Around 5,000 layoffs were announced in March followed by the recent announcement of a 25 percent pay cut for all OYO employees, who the company calls "OYOpreneurs" even when announcing pay reductions. The result is tumbling job metrics.
After a nearly 50 percent slash in job postings from an all-time peak of 899 at the end of August, OYO spent the last part of 2019 climbing back up to 700. Still, postings experienced a sheer 97 percent drop at the start of January. There are currently only 25 open positions.
Its Linkedin headcount is also on a gradual decline, peaking at 21,700 employees at the end of 2019 and down to 20,600 by recent counts.
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.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.