Sequoia MD Mohit Bhatnagar steps down from OYO board

Sequoia MD Mohit Bhatnagar steps down from OYO board
Photo Credit: VCCircle
16 Oct, 2020

Mohit Bhatnagar, managing director of Sequoia Capital India, has resigned from the board of directors of budget hotels aggregator OYO and moved to an observer's role.

The restructuring was carried out as per the requirements of Series F shareholders agreement. In March, Oravel Stays, the holding company of budget hotel chain OYO, had raised $807 million in a growth round (Series F) from Tokyo-headquartered Softbank and RA Hospitality,  an investment vehicle of OYO founder Ritesh Agarwal. 

“We, at OYO, are a board governed company and work closely with all our board members. Since day one, Mohit has played an important role in helping OYO stay true to its mission and focus on creating value for our guests and asset partners alike,” Agarwal said.

Going forward, Agarwal said, Lightspeed and Sequoia will jointly have one board and one board observer nomination on the OYO global board. As Bhatnagar moves to an observer role, Bejul Somaia, managing director of Lightspeed Venture Partners, will continue as a board member.

“I believe that OYO is well-positioned to come out stronger from this pandemic that has deeply impacted the hospitality industry across the world. As an observer on OYO’s Global Board, we look forward to continuing our support of Ritesh and team OYO’s mission of bettering the hospitality industry,” Bhatnagar said.

Agarwal’s  RA Hospitality along with SoftBank Group had bought a $1.5 billion worth OYO stake in July 2019, offering partial exits for early investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital India in July 2019.

The development was first reported by digital news portal Inc42.

OYO had elevated CEO of India and South Asia, Aditya Ghosh, to its board of directors in December 2019, a year after he joined the company from budget carrier IndiGo. In November last year, OYO appointed Betsy Atkins, founder of Bajaj Corporations as an independent director to its board.

The other members on the board are CEO Agarwal, former Starbucks COO Troy Alstead; W Steve Albrecht, former president of the American Accounting Association and Association of Certified Fraud Examiners; Munish Verma, a partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers; and Gerardo Issac Lopez, operating partner at SoftBank Vision Fund. 

The Series F infusion came when the company’s China operations had stagnated amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

After OYO partially reopened for business in India on June 8, its occupancy levels were at 30% of pre-Covid-19 levels, a blogpost, authored by OYO India and South Asia CEO Rohit Kapoor, and chief human resources officer Dinesh Ramamurthi, said. OYO is also starting to see signs of recovery in Europe, with its vacation homes business, as well as in the United States and other markets, a spokesperson had told TechCircle earlier last month.