In 2017, The New York Times profiled Sunvalley, a Chinese electronics manufacturer that obsessively monitored Amazon to build and maintain US-facing brands with a reputation for quality. They include phone charging specialist RavPower, home office and dash cam supplier Vava, and headphones and home appliance purveyor TaoTronics. Now, all three of them have disappeared from Amazon, seemingly for ignoring the platform’s rules.
On Wednesday, Amazon confirmed to The Verge that it had removed RavPower. (Amazon tells us it’s checking on Sunvalley’s other brands). But it’s clear from their empty Amazon storefronts that something’s going on — and the Chinese company has already issued a statement, spotted by The Wall Street Journal’s Nicole Ngyuen, confirming that Amazon suspended them on June 16th.
RAVPower's parent company has issued a statement saying that three of its brands (incl. Taotronics and VAVA) were suspended from Amz yesterday, affecting 31% of the company's revenue, and it will rely on its DTC site.— nicole nguyen (@nicnguyen) June 17, 2021
The stock is down 12% today. https://t.co/6hKeLiyvgm
When Nguyen bought a new charger from RavPower, she received an offer for a $35 gift card in exchange for an Amazon review. That kind of manipulation has been against Amazon’s rules since 2016, and Sunvalley’s statement suggests that’s also the reason why these brands were suspended.
Still, there’s something weird about the situation. Sunvalley’s brands stood out among the throngs of fly-by-night electronics vendors on Amazon with their word-jumble names. Also, the products were often good! RavPower made our favorite wireless charger, and we recommended the Vava Laser TV as “the projector with the best image quality.” Wirecutter called a Vava hub the best USB-C hub, and we recommended a HooToo USB-C hub in 2018.
Interestingly, Amazon hasn’t yet removed HooToo, a fourth Sunvalley brand — it still has at least three USB-C hubs on sale. Another brand, USpicy, seems to still be selling a pack of makeup brushes, and aromatherapy brand Anjou still has a line of essential oil diffusers, bath bombs, and the like.
Sunvalley said in the statement that Amazon counts for 31 percent of its revenue, which is a lot, but the impact may not stop there. Some of the company’s products have also been fulfilled by Amazon, even if you were to buy them at a website like ravpower.com, for example. When I tried to purchase a RavPower charger yesterday, I received an email saying that my order couldn’t be completed. It’s possible that they just sold out, though.
RavPower didn’t respond to a request for comment, and I spent about 10 minutes on hold with Sunvalley US before being told they’d get back to me sometime in the next two days.
Something that may or may not be relevant: Allen Fung, Sunvalley US’s longtime general manager, who takes credit for building these brands and running the Amazon business over the past ten years, left the company in January 2021, according to his LinkedIn page.