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The pledged capital injection from Global University Systems, a long-time player in for-profit education, is tiny. But its for-profit discipline is what Selina needs. In that vein, Selina will cut up to 350 jobs.

Selina, a hotel and experiences brand focused on youth travelers, said on Tuesday it had cut a deal for a strategic investment of up to $50 million led by Global University Systems (GUS), which runs for-profit universities.

“They [GUS] are coming in for a long-term play,” said Rafael Museri, co-founder and CEO, in an interview with Skift. “They have more experience than us in how to build a successful operation in multiple countries, and we’re touching the same target audience.”

The extra capital starts with $10 million right away. That will help the balance sheet of Selina — a growth startup that has struggled to become profitable after going public last October.

On Tuesday, the company revealed it had suffered a net loss of $30.3 million on revenue of $54 million in the first quarter. It had $23 million in cash as of March 31.

Selina said on Tuesday it planned to cut about 350 full-time employees by October. It has closed five properties that contributed to 41% of its unit-level operating losses last year.

Selina debuted at $9.75 a share last October; it closed Monday at about $1.20.

A Partner in Education

Selina and GUS appeared to be still working out the details. But both pointed to potential collaboration. GUS said it serves about 100,000 full-time learners a year, plus many more through online education. At the simplest level, it could cross-sell its in-person and online learners on visiting Selina’s properties.

“Selina’s properties, many of which already exude the vibrant atmosphere of university campuses, are extremely relevant and embody the future of lifelong learning,” said Aaron Etingen, CEO of GUS. “Our vision is to push the boundaries of conventional education by delivering accessible learning opportunities across the globe.”

GUS, a privately held business majority owned by Etingen, has weathered many storms since 2013.

“They’re incredible, detailed operators with a very successful business,” Museri said. “They’re operating for the same target audience. They understand the values of those generations. They’ve got hundreds of partners who help sell their programs worldwide.”

Earnings Update

Selina said Tuesday that its first-quarter revenue was up nearly 32%, partly boosted by an 11-point rise in average occupancy. Its net loss had also narrowed.

Museri said he was proud of the company’s progress in improving its cash flow picture. Excluding certain items, Museri said the company had negative $8.5 million in first-quarter free cash flow, compared to negative $16.9 million a year earlier.

Brutal Fundraising Environment

Selina was one of about a dozen travel companies that went public in the past two years by merging with blank check entities known as special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs). Investors have cooled on these companies.

Museri blamed the rapid rise of interest rates for shortening the timetable he expected to have to pivot his company to profitability.

“The fastest interest rate increase in history killed the appetite from investing into growth companies and giving fuel to founders who want to conquer the world,” Museri said. “The companies that will survive will be the ones that manage the shift fast enough. We are shifting the company culture from a growth culture to a profitability culture.”

Capital Injection in Phases

After securing an extra $20 million in funding, most likely from other parties, GUS pledges to inject another $10 million via a private investment in public equity (or PIPE) and an additional $10 million in either a PIPE investment or convertible debt.

Museri and his co-founder Daniel Rudasevski are personally guaranteeing Selina’s obligations under the convertible debt arrangements, reinforced by a corporate guarantee from their investment vehicle.

Several conditions have to be met for all the money to be disbursed. In the best case, there’s room for up to $20 million additional in funding — for a total of $70 million.


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Tags: earnings, future of lodging, selina

Photo credit: People co-working at the Selina Baños property in Ecuador in 2022. Photo by AliaY Photography. Source: Selina.

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