Oyo's Ritesh Agarwal is second only to Kylie Jenner in youngest global billionaires' list
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Business - February 28, 2020

Oyo’s Ritesh Agarwal is second only to Kylie Jenner in youngest global billionaires’ list

Founder of OYO Rooms, Ritesh Agarwal, is the second youngest self-made billionaire in the world. The 26-year-old Indian entrepreneur comes second only to cosmetics queen Kylie Jenner. According to the Hurun Global Rich List 2020, Agarwal, at 24 years of age, had an estimated wealth of $1.1 billion ( ₹7,800 crore). Jenner has also amassed $1.1 billion, but by the age of 22.

Agarwal has also become the youngest Indian in the rich list. A college dropout, Agarwal hails from Bissamcuttack in Odisha and started his entrepreneurial journey in 2013 from Delhi. The SoftBank-backed Oyo soon became the largest hotel chain in India with a valuation of more than $10 billion. It also counts Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners among its investors. 

In 2019, a major controversy erupted around Agarwal bought back shares at a whopping $10 billion valuation in his firm. Oyo’s valuation doubled after the share buyback. However, there were no major changes to the company’s business structure. 

The Oyo success story is all not rosy. Recently, the company made headlines after it laid off 20 per cent of its 12,000-strong staff in India in end-2019, and cut down 5 per cent of the 12,000-strong workforce in China as part of a restructuring. It ceased operations in 200 of the 600 cities in India. 

This comes amid questions on its business models. Oyo’s hotel partners in India are increasingly unhappy. According to recent reports, nearly 500 hotel partners, of about 20,000, have snapped ties with the company since April 2019. They alleged hidden charges and lack of transparency. 

Apart from Agarwal’s success story, another takeaway from the  Hurun Global Rich List 2020 is that India has added more than three dollar billionaires every month in 2019, taking the tally to 138 that has helped the country to feature at the third position globally.

China and the US occupied the first and second spot with 799 and 626 billionaires, respectively.

In total, India got 34 new billionaires to take the count to 138 on the list, topped by Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries with $67 billion in networth, minting Rs 7 crore every hour, and the number jumps to 170 if Indian-origin billionaires outside the country are tallied.

There is no surprise that Mumbai is the home to more than a third of the richest individuals in the country with 50 of them living in the megapolis, making it the ninth richest city globally, followed by New Delhi with 30, Bengaluru with 17 and Ahmedabad with 12.

With $67 billion, Ambani is also the ninth richest in the world which is topped by Jeff Bezos of Amazon with $140 billion. The second in the list is SP Hinduja family ($27 billion), Gautam Adani (a little over $17 billion), Shiv Nadar & family (close to $17 billion), and Lakshmi Mittal with over $15 billion in networth.

At the sixth lot is banker Uday Kotak with a networth of around $15 billion, making him the richest self-made banker in the whole world.

At the seventh slot is Azim Premji ($14 billion), followed by Cyrus Poonawalla of Serum Institute ($12 billion) and Cyrus Pallonji Mistry and his son Shapoor Pallonji with $11 billion each. Hurun Report India managing director Anas Rahman Junaid said the Indian billionaires are defying gravity as the deepening slowdown does not seem to hamper their growth.

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