In the era of Uber, WeWork and Ofo, we have become weary of fast-growing startups propelled by venture capital money, led by young men long on ambition and short on experience. OYO, India’s embattled hospitality chain, founded by CEO Ritesh Agarwal in 2013 when he was just 19 years old, seems to teeter on the edge of fulfilling that familiar boom-to-bust arc. In the last month, OYO has made sizeable job cuts in offices across the world and exited 200 cities in the name of restructuring, amid backlash from investors and partners all over.
In China, OYO’s second largest market, after India, things are looking grim. The COVID-19 outbreak is wreaking havoc across the entire sector, Shi Zhenkang, the only OYO China top executive with hotel experience has parted ways with the company, and formidable local competitors are encroaching on the same market OYO staked when it first blazed into China.