How Anker Found Billions in Batteries and Chargers

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Steven Yang quit his job as a software engineer writing algorithms at Google in 2011 to address what he saw as a product gap: the lack of cheap, high-quality laptop batteries and chargers. A decade later, the company he started – Anker – has become a multi-billion dollar company.

The big picture: While many people recognize Anker as an important name in the world of charging cords and batteries, few realize just how big the Yang company has grown.

Send the news: Anker now makes a wide variety of electronics, from headphones to projectors, bringing in about $2 billion in revenue last year and paying the salaries of about 3,000 people.

  • More than half of those are engineers and product managers, Yang told TSWT. But, he admits, those who know the name generally only see it as the mark on the cord or power bank that charges their iPhone.
  • “If I make people underestimate me, it’s my fault,” Yang said in a recent Zoom interview from the company’s headquarters in China’s Hunan province.

Anchor has worked On his way to a modest but worthy goal since 2018, Yang says: He wants to replace the clutter of wires in your home with a fast-charging hub in every room.

  • Many of today’s devices can charge much faster than using the cord that comes in the box, Yang says. But electronics manufacturers usually don’t want to pay for the fastest possible charger — they’re not going to put a $30 charger in a razor.
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But Anchor can make a hub or power bank that can charge that portable shaver, along with a smartphone and many other types of devices, in just minutes.

  • Many of Anker’s latest products use gallium nitride, an alternative chemistry that can charge devices three times as efficiently as traditional silicon-based battery systems. That means chargers that can hold more energy in the same space and also deliver power faster.
  • Yang also hopes to get rid of the dreaded box or drawer that most people have filled with cords and chargers for devices they no longer use, or perhaps even own.
  • “What if we could get rid of that box in the next five to 10 years,” Yang reminded the crowd at a 2018 press event in New York. Both the company and the industry have made strides, with Anker expanding its range of products. and the industry is moving towards fewer, more standardized chargers.

Maybe not all of this Changing your life completely, Yang says, but “we hope it will really make the world a better place and make your home a little tidier.”

Quick catch up: In just ten years, Anker has grown from a little-known option on Amazon to a brand sought after by consumers for its range, quality and price. The company started out with chargers and batteries for laptops, but Yang said he soon saw consumers have more pressing needs with their smartphones and shifted his focus to battery banks and cell phone charging cords.

  • Amazon’s marketplace served as the company’s starting point, and Amazon was the core of the company’s online-only business until it began selling through Walmart in 2015. Now it gets about 40 percent of its sales from offline retailers.
  • The company has also expanded its geographic reach. America accounts for 40% of sales, and Europe and Japan are the second and third largest markets. China, Anker’s home market, accounts for only about 5% of sales.
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Between the lines: Anker has been supported by a number of trends, most notably Apple’s decision to stop including chargers with the iPhone in 2020.

  • “There was a lot of controversy about that,” he said, but it also spurred other companies to follow suit. “Apple is the brand that every other brand looks up to.”
  • At the same time, the EU has led the way in an effort to standardize the charging of small electronics, with a rule coming into effect in 2024 mandating that phones and other small electronic devices have a USB-C port.

Faster charging is a major focus of the battery industry as the total capacity of batteries is not growing very fast.

  • Yang says that for most people, very fast charging can work the same as a very high capacity battery. It’s like choosing which soda to buy, he says: “If you have a big enough cup, you don’t need to refill it. But if you refill it really quickly, you won’t have such a big cup.” required.”
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Yes but: Anker struggles not only with the limits of battery physics, but also with the crosswinds of geopolitics.

  • Like other China-based companies, Anker is trying to avoid getting caught up in the growing economic tensions between the US and China.
  • Yang notes that the company speaks English in its offices, which are modeled after Silicon Valley-style open floor plans. “It’s kind of a global company living in China,” Yang said.
  • Anker has also expanded its production to Vietnam and elsewhere.

What’s next: Anchor remains in the accessory space, but continues to expand into new areas – most recently, 3D printers.

  • Yang notes that there are likely 100 to 200 categories that generate multi-billion dollars a year in revenue that could bolster Anker’s strengths. The company is likely to introduce two or three new categories this year, he said, but was hesitant about which products those might be.
  • Yang excluded some areas the company considers to be beyond its capabilities: “You’ll never see Anker doing a phone, a laptop, a TV or a tablet,” he said.

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