Startups

Japan's Oyo Hotel Startup Gets Management Help From Investor SoftBank

SoftBank is dispatching officials to help one of its largest startups, Oyo, which is besieged by the pandemic's economic effects, according to Bloomberg.

Oyo Japan is a joint venture between the Indian online hotel company and SoftBank's domestic telecoms unit, and it is among the most hard-hit by the pandemic among SoftBank's portfolio of sharing economy businesses. The company had to close offices in provincial centers in Japan and could be looking to downsize in Tokyo in general, Bloomberg reported.

The company has merged its efforts for hotel booking and apartment rental, anticipating the drastically shrunken market amid the pandemic.

So, SoftBank has deployed two executives to be a part of the six-member management team Oyo is putting together to help deal with the situation, Bloomberg reported. The full team has not been identified yet as the details are still being worked out, but the SoftBank executives are SoftBank Corp. Executive Vice President Eric Gan and Lucio Di Ciaccio, an investor at SoftBank’s Vision Fund, according to Bloomberg.

Gan is a long-term SoftBank vet who has set up joint ventures in Japan before, and Di Ciaccio joined the Vision Fund in 2017 from the Carlyle Group. The committee was announced in a town hall meeting on Aug. 3, Bloomberg reported.

Oyo's Japanese hotel operations team was reduced to 150 employees from around 600 from last October, with furloughs and job reassignments to SoftBank. The market there was strained for some time, Bloomberg reported, with technical problems and a public backlash from hotels hampering the SoftBank endorsement.

Oyo has been making a bid to go profitable amid a push from SoftBank. The company's growth was spurred through guaranteed revenues, which backfired when some hotels didn't book enough and led to disputes.

Oyo's push for profitability also came with a reduction in the company's workforce, and the company laid off 5,000 people worldwide in March. That left the company with around 25,000 across 80 countries.

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