In a major bet, perhaps one of the biggest in terms of risks taken by startup founders of late, Oyo Hotels and Homes has announced raising of a fresh $1.5B Series F round. What’s interesting though, is that almost half of that money — $700 Mn to be precise — comes from the company’s founder Ritesh Agarwal. The speculated valuation post this round is in the vicinity of $10 Billion. Current investors are also participating in the round.
Ritesh Agarwak will invest through his Cayman Islands-domiciled entity, RA Hospitality, with an additional $800 million coming in from the Gurugram-headquartered Oyo’s existing set of investors, according to an official statement released by the company on Monday.
Agarwal is further planning to buyback shares worth close to $1.3 Bn (assuming that $700Mn of the proposed $2Bn loan is being spent in this financing round), to up his stake in the company to 30%, from current speculated levels of 10% or something.
Apart from SoftBank, Oyo also counts venture capital firms Lightspeed Ventures and Sequoia Capital, ride-hailing majors Grab and Didi Chuxing, Greenoaks Capital, Hero Enterprise and China Lodging Group among its list of institutional backers.
Now comes the bigger question. Where did Agarwal get that level of personal financing ? Well, by pledging his shares within the company itself, based primarily on the valuation that was determined in the company’s most recent last round of funding. Basically, it is a founder pledging his owned shares of the company to raise money, that will finance the company’s new round and raise the valuation even further. Yeah, it is quite complicated a cycle to comprehend.
According to OYO, a significant portion of the funding raised by Oyo will go towards growing its business in the United States (US). In the US, the company said, it has a presence in about 60 cities, spread across 21 states, with 7,500 rooms under management.
Additionally, RA Hospitality — the Cayman Islands registered entity through which Agarwal is investing the loaned $2Bn into Oyo — had received the necessary approvals from the Competition Commission of India, in September, to undertake the stock buyback.