Microsoft has entered into a “multi-year strategic alliance” with Indian hotel chain company OYO, to work with the startup to jointly develop travel and hospitality products and technology. In a press release, the Windows maker confirmed that it also made a strategic equity investment in OYO, but did not disclose the amount.
The partnership with Microsoft will require OYO to switch to Microsoft Azure for its cloud-based needs. The SoftBank-backed company will also jointly develop solutions with Microsoft to benefit customers who operate small and medium-sized hotels and home windows. “As part of this alliance, OYO will develop smart room experiences for travelers on the OYO platform, such as premium and personalized in-room experiences for its guests. Using Microsoft’s Azure IoT, the experience will include self-check-in supported by a digital arrival and departure record and self-knowledge of your customer (KYC) along with IoT-managed smart locks and virtual assistance,” the companies said.
Anant Maheshwari, the President of Microsoft India went further to say that “by combining the power of Azure with the technology and product stack developed by OYO, we look forward to accelerating innovation in travel and hospitality. It is inspiring to see how the Microsoft cloud is empowering digital natives like OYO to accelerate industry innovation and transformation, turning the challenges of a post-pandemic era into opportunities for the future.”
Over the years, OYO has grown to become one of the largest hotel chains in the world, with its presence spread across India, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the United States.
OYO was, however, drastically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the words of CEO Riteish Agarwal, the pandemic hit OYO like a cyclone. “We built something for so many years and it only took 30 days for it to drop by more than 60 percent”, he said, adding that the company had not made any decisions about exploring public markets. OYO’s operations were impinged upon, and in response to the pandemic (which imposed strict lockdowns), it was forced to lay off thousands of employees around the world earlier this year.
OYO is the latest of several strategic investments Microsoft has made in the country. The U.S. giant has backed several other firms in the South Asian market, including news aggregator and short video platform DailyHunt, e-commerce giant Flipkart, and logistics firm SaaS FarEye.