One of the biggest success stories to come out of India in the past twelve months has been the online branded accommodation aggregators, led by OYO Rooms and ZO Rooms.
Although it might be more accurate to remove "success" as a qualifier and keep it as just the biggest story.
During the year, OYO nailed two rounds - $25 million in March followed by $100 million in August, making it the most-heavily-backed player in the market.
Money was flowing into the sector - competitor Zo Rooms raised a reported $45 million across two rounds this year; Vista Rooms also entered the market, with an undisclosed round.
All was going swimmingly until someone put a big stick in the spokes, and that someone was MakeMyTrip, India's biggest online travel agency.
In November it said that it would stop listing branded-budget accommodation on its site and was launching a similar product of its own - Value Stays.
On an earnings call a MakeMyTrip exec explained that "the feedback [about the budget brands] is not positive" and suggested that OYO and ZO had expanded too quickly.
But losing such a big distribution partner might not have been as big a deal as first imagined - OYO's chief growth officer, Kavikrut, told Tnooz that only 10%-15% of its bookings were coming through OTAs.
The reason why the MMT decision could be seen as a pivot is the psychological impact this might have had on customers and the growth plans for the sector.
Imagine if Hotels.com or Booking.com publicly dropped a brand in Europe from their listings - it would certainly make people think twice before trying to book that brand via a different channel.
MakeMyTrip's move also raised the profile of not only its Value Stays brand but also the subbrands launched by other OTAs to muscle in on OYO territory. Yatra has drawn on the experience and contacts from its Travelguru brand to launch T Rooms and T Stays. Ibibo Group is selling "Go Stays" via ibibo.com.
However, a month or so after OYO lost MakeMyTrip as a distribution partner, it signed a new one in Thomas Cook India. The full-service agency is selling OYO not only via its sites but also in its high street shops and also via its corporate travel desks.
So one door closed for OYO and another one opened. At the time of this writing, there are reports that OYO is in talks to buy its rival Zo, meaning that we would be witnessing consolidation in a market segment that is still in startup phase.
While that deal seems some way off, it would be a surprise, to say the least.
On the one hand it might be a sign that OYO's investors remain bullish about the sector, or is could be a sign that there are too many players in the market and OYOs investors are scared of the competition. Or it could just be a rumour.
Related reading from Tnooz:
Ixigo metasearch heats up India’s branded budget hotels even more (Nov2015)
Freshly funded, RedDoorz will expand its branded budget hotels empire (Oct2015)
India sets the standard for branded budget hotels (Aug2015)
Treebo raises $6m as India’s hostels get professional (June2015)
Read our Tnooz team's other picks for the pivotal moments of 2015
NB Image by Shutterstock