Microsoft has entered a “multi-year strategic alliance” with Oyo to work with the Indian startup to co-develop “next-generation” travel and hospitality products and tech.
Thursday’s announcement confirms a late July TechCrunch report. TechCrunch had reported that Microsoft was in talks to invest in Oyo and was exploring ways to provide its technologies to the Indian startup, which is one of the most valuable in the South Asian market.
In a press statement, Microsoft confirmed that it has also made a strategic equity investment in Oyo, but didn’t disclose the amount. A regulatory filing showed last month that the Windows-maker had invested $5 million in the Indian startup. The investment valued Oyo at $9.6 billion.
Oyo will switch to Microsoft Azure for its cloud-based needs and co-develop solutions with the American giant to “benefit patrons who operate small and medium hotel and home storefronts,” the firms said. “As part of this alliance, OYO will develop Smart Room experiences for travelers on the OYO platform, such as premium and customized in-room experiences for its guests. Using Microsoft’s Azure IoT, the experience will include self-check-in supported by a digital register of arrivals and departures and self-Know Your Customer (KYC) along with IoT-managed smart locks and virtual assistance,” the firms said.
“Combining the power of Azure with the tech and product stack developed by OYO, we are looking forward to accelerating innovation in travel and hospitality,” said Anant Maheshwari, president of Microsoft India, in a statement. “It is inspiring to see how the Microsoft cloud is empowering digital natives like OYO to accelerate industry transformation and innovations, turning the challenges of a post-pandemic era into opportunities for the future.”
Oyo has emerged as one of the largest hotel chains in the world, with presence in India, Southeast Asia, Europe and the U.S. But some of its missteps in its pursuit of aggressive expansion — “toxic culture,” lapse in governance and relationship with many hotel owners — have scarred its growth.
Just as the startup was pledging to improve its relationship with hotel owners, the pandemic arrived. In response, Oyo slowed its growth and laid off thousands of employees globally earlier this year as nations across the world enforced lockdowns.
The pandemic hit the seven-year-old startup like a “cyclone,” CEO Ritesh Agarwal told Bloomberg TV in July. “We built something for so many years and it took just 30 days for it drop by over 60%,” he said, adding that the firm had not made any decision on exploring the public markets.
Airbnb-backed Oyo had between $780 million to $800 million in its bank, Agarwal said at a virtual conference recently, and had pared its “monthly burn” across all businesses to $4 million to $5 million. (The startup had about $1 billion in the bank in December 2020.)
In July — after Agarwal’s remarks at the aforementioned conference — Oyo said it had raised $660 million in debt. That debt was used to pay off the previous debt, according to a person familiar with the matter.
As for Microsoft, Oyo is the latest of several strategic investments it has made in the country. The firm has backed a handful of startups in the South Asian market, including news aggregator and short-video platform DailyHunt, e-commerce giant Flipkart and logistics SaaS firm FarEye.
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Here's why investors like Warren Buffett don't like gold as an investment – CNBC
But not all investors are in love with gold. Warren Buffett has spoken out numerous times on his doubts, calling it an asset with “no utility.”
“It doesn’t produce anything and that’s why from a long-term perspective, it’s a hard asset to invest in,” Odyssey Capital Advisors chief investment officer Jason Snipe said. “It’s prudent portfolio management to have maybe a small allocation there but this is not an asset that you want to be heavily entrenched into if you’re looking for long-term yield.”
Since 2011, the S&P 500 has returned more than 16% on an annualized basis. The annualized return for the 10-year Treasury note sat at just over 2% in that time period. Gold, meanwhile, has fallen slightly over the past 10 years.
“Early on, you see strong performance, strong return or yield from commodities such as gold. Generally, as we move into a different cycle, gold is not as great a performer as we move into a normalized environment,” Snipe said.
Whether gold is an effective hedge against market volatility is also widely debated among experts.
“Gold is not necessarily a perfect hedge against inflation but it can be a strategic hedge against inflation,” according to Suki Cooper, executive director of precious metals research at Standard Chartered Bank.
“Various studies have shown us that if gold is held for 12 to 18 months before inflation takes higher and then it’s held for an additional 12 to 18 months while inflation moves higher, it can be a good inflation hedge,” Cooper said. “But if it’s just bought for a short period, let’s say a month, it may not prove to be an effective inflation hedge.”
Watch the video to find out more about how gold performs as an investment.
Ontario supports investment of $31.5M in Wellington, Perth county businesses – CTV News London
London, Ont. –
Ontario supports $31.5 million surge within the Southwestern Ontario economy with $2.6 million being invested in Wellington County through the Regional Development Program.
The investment by Wellington County manufacturers, which will build on domestic manufacturing is being supported by the Ontario government, will help to create 71 jobs and retain 150 jobs.
“Through the Regional Development Program, our government is making targeted investments in local manufacturers to help them create good, local jobs,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade in a statement.
“These projects are making a significant impact in communities and economies across the Wellington County region and Southwestern Ontario by helping to secure the private-sector investment that will support strong regional growth.”
The investments are as follows:
- Weberlane Manufacturing is investing $4.8 million to build a new 115,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Listowel.
- Nieuwland Feed & Supply is investing $16.2 million to consolidate its production facilities as well as build a second feed mill on the property.
- Bold Canine is investing $6.5 million to expand and renovate its facility, purchase equipment, and invest in research and development.
- Wellington Perforated Sheet and Plate is investing $3.9 million to develop new products, and produce more steel parts in-house.
The Regional Development Program for Eastern and Southwestern Ontario was launched by the government in November of 2019.
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