Airbnb is investing in an Indian hotel chain that wantsto become the world’s biggest within five years.The companytook part inthe latest funding round at OYO, one of India’s most valuable startups, it said Monday. Neither Airbnb nor OYOwould comment on the size of the investment, but it could be as much as $200 million, according to media reports. OYO was valued at $5 billion in 2018.”Emerging markets like India and China are some of Airbnb’s fastest-growing, with our growth increasingly powered by tourism to and from these markets,” Greg Greeley, president of Homes at Airbnb, said in a statement. “In many of these markets, OYO is empowering local hospitality entrepreneurs to provide more options to more travelers,” he added.OYO, which started five years ago as a platform to book budget hotels in India, now has about 460,000 rooms across eight countries including China, Malaysia, Indonesia and the United Kingdom. It claims to be one of the top five hospitality chains in China, where it has more than 5,000 hotels in 280 cities.Headquartered in Gurgaon, a tech city on the outskirts of Delhi, OYO says it is adding rooms faster than the world’s top three hotel chains combined and aims to beat global leader Marriott(MAR) by 2023.
Indian hotel startup OYO is planning to be bigger than Marriott“Airbnb’s strong global footprints and access to local communities will open up new opportunities for OYO … to strengthen and grow,” Maninder Gulati, OYO’s global strategy head, said in a statement.Airbnb, which has its own India operation, said it is also exploring the possibility of listing OYO properties on its platform.The OYO investment is part of an effort by Airbnb to boost its growing hotel business. The company last month acquired HotelTonight, a platform for booking last-minute hotels that was most recently valued at $463 million.OYO’s investors includeSoftBank (SFTBF), the Japanese tech giant that has bet on Uber, WeWork, Slack and some of India’s biggest startups.SoftBank has poured millions of dollars into OYO, largely from the huge Vision Fund it launched with Saudi Arabia. The fund led a previous investment round in September last year, which raised $1 billion for OYO and valued the company at $5 billion.