SoftBank-backed Oyo names new US head, shares outlook for recovery

  • Oyo Hotels, the budget hotel company backed by SoftBank, promoted its eastern US head to oversee the entire US. 
  • Kasra Moshkani previously worked for Uber, from leading the ridesharing company’s Miami launch to overseeing about a third of its US ride footprint.
  • As the travel industry tries to recover from the pandemic, Oyo’s eyeing 2021 and 2022 growth, executives told Business Insider.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The coronavirus pandemic slammed the travel industry, leading companies like Oyo Hotels to lay off thousands. 

Now, the SoftBank-backed budget hotel company is planning its next US chapter, as the vast majority of pre-coronavirus revenue has returned in recent weeks. 

On Thursday, the company is naming Kasra Moshkani its head of US business, after Moshkani spent a year leading the company’s eastern US business. Before Oyo, Moshkani spent five years at Uber, where he was a general manager for the ridesharing company and launched markets like Miami.

Kasra Moshkani Oyo head of US

Kasra Moshkani is taking over as Oyo’s US head

Oyo Hotels

Abhinav Sinha, who previously led the US as part of his job as global chief operating officer, will focus more on his COO role. 

See more: A $10 billion SoftBank-backed startup quietly fired 110 people based on their performance. Some fired workers say it was basically impossible to close sales in the middle of a pandemic.

Moshkani told Business Insider that when he joined Oyo, he saw parallels between the growth he led at Uber with Oyo’s mission of fast, sustainable expansion. Then the pandemic hit. 

Oyo first furloughed and then laid off hundreds of employees in the US in June, as occupancy levels inched up to 30%. Moshkani said Oyo currently employs 200 people in the US, with plans to add headcount in 18-24 months.  

Now, Moshkani said Oyo’s mission “is as steadfast today as it ever was,” though with much slower growth goals. 

In the US, revenue per available room – a standard hotel business metric – has reached 92% of pre-pandemic levels, and the company has added more than 8,000 rooms to its roster since January. Moshkani said that relative to the broader industry, Oyo is outperforming on occupancy and RevPAR as consumers seek out budget options.

The company has also introduced new initiatives, from a cleaning certification to a new, slightly more upscale brand, in recent months. 

“We have overcome the crisis,” said Sinha, the COO. “We’re in a more stable state. The most challenging part is behind us.” 

See more: Hotel chain Oyo’s Ritesh Agarwal floats startup fund, joining long list of Indian founders turned investors

In the next six to nine months, Oyo is planning to be “conservative” and hold off on major US investments, Sinha said. Then in 12-18 months, the company is aiming to grow its US footprint by two to three times its current 300-hotel roster. 

Sinha said Oyo isn’t seeking additional capital, with a “very solid” balance sheet, or planning other major leadership changes. 

The budget hotel company has raised more than $3 billion in capital, and the last fundraise included $700 million from its CEO. He bought back shares from existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital, as part of a deal that raised Oyo’s valuation to $10 billion. SoftBank has been pumping money into the company since 2015.

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