Sanyo was an electronic company headquartered in Osaka, Japan. It was a member of the Fortune 500. The company manufactured and sold a wide range of electronic equipment. It backed the ill-fated Betamax, which one writer calls one of the “biggest blunders.”
At one time, Sanyo established a subsidiary named Sanyo Semiconductor. The subsidiary manufactured and sold semiconductor products like integrating digital and analog systems, hard-wired logic ICs, and ultra-small transistors. Sanyo would later sell Sanyo Semiconductor to ON Semiconductor.
Today, if you try to find Sanyo.com, you get a short message: “The requested URL was not found on this server.” What could have happened to a firm that at one time claimed to have “provided high-quality TVs to over 40 million American consumers and for over 55 years”?
We took some time to find out what happened to Sanyo.com. This article follows the company’s history, looks at some of the products it manufactured, its challenges, and the sale of Sanyo Semiconductor to ON Semiconductor. Finally, we find out what happened to Sanyo.com.
The History of Sanyo.com
Sanyo was established in 1947 by Toshio Iue. It was incorporated in 1949. Iue was influenced by his father, who owned a ship and traveled to different ports in Japan.
When his father died, Iue continued his adventures on the sea. His love for the sea was so deep that when he started a company, he named it Sanyo, which translates to “three oceans.”
Three years after its incorporation, Sanyo made Japan’s first plastic radio. In 1953, the company saw another first when it made the first pulsator-type washing machine in Japan, creating what the company calls a “milestone in Japan's consumer electronics boom.”
Establishing Sanyo Semiconductor
In 2006, Sanyo created a subsidiary, calling it Sanyo Semiconductor. The subsidiary manufactured power device technologies. In describing its products, the company said that “It develops integrating analog and digital systems, ultra-small transistors, hard-wired logic ICs, Bi-CMOS IC and analog-digital mixed IC, and thick film ICs that miniaturizes and reduces power consumption of electronic devices.”
Apart from the products listed above, Sanyo Semiconductor listed “motor driver ICs for game machines, cell phones, and digital cameras” among its many products. The company’s technologies were used in various products like televisions, car stereo systems, air conditioners, and audio-visual equipment.
In the year when Sanyo Semiconductor was established, Sanyo was facing many challenges. An article published by The Japan Times in November 2006 reported that as a result of the challenges the company was facing, it announced that it would cut “1,500 local workers and 700 overseas to reduce its annual payroll by 17 billion yen in the 2007 business year.”
Unhappy Investors and Deals Falling Through
Things would get worse in 2007 when Reuters reported that due to the “dire conditions, some investors were looking for more drastic measures such as pulling out of businesses.” The news agency quotes Sanyo Vice President Koichi Maeda, who admitted that his company was “late to adapt to rapid changes in the mobile phone market.”
Problems seemed to pile on Sanyo in 2007. Reuters reported that Sanyo’s deal to manufacture mobile phones with Nokia jointly had been scrapped. Sanyo also announced that its plans to work with Quanta Computer Inc. in the television business were not going to be as big as forecast.
The Accounting Probe
As if Sanyo's operational challenges were not enough, reports started surfacing in 2007 that the company was under an accounting probe. An article published by MarketWatch.com reports that when the company admitted to the probe, its shares lost about a third of their value.
It looks like the probe was related to the fact that Sanyo was not declaring all its losses. MarketWatch.com quotes reports which speculated that if the company had been revealing its true losses, it “would likely have fallen into the red for that business year .” We could not find much information about what the conclusions of the probe were.
With all the company’s challenges at that time, it’s not surprising that its executives started leaving due to pressure from investors. The Wall Street Journal reports that in 2007, most members of Sanyo's founding family, including Satoshi Iue (a top advisor at that time) and Toshimasa Iue (President/COO, the grandson of the company’s founder Toshio Iue), left the company.
Panasonic Acquires Sanyo and Sells Sanyo Semiconductor
In 2009, Panasonic announced that it had “completed the acquisition of a majority of the voting stock of SANYO Electric Co., Ltd.” According to the announcement, the acquisition made Sanyo a “consolidated subsidiary of Panasonic.”
In July 2010, Sanyo sold its semiconductor subsidiary to the US chipmaker ON Semiconductor for $366 million. The electronic news publication EEPower.com reported that “ON Semi states that this acquisition will expand and strengthen its product portfolio.”
Panasonic would later acquire another 30% of Sanyo shares. In December 2010, Panasonic announced that it would acquire all the Sanyo shares. This would make Sanyo a wholly-owned subsidiary of Panasonic.
What Then Happened to Sanyo.com?
Following the complete acquisition of Sanyo by Panasonic in 2010, Sanyo.com started redirecting to the Panasonic website. The redirect seems to have worked for several years until the end of 2020.
An article published by AVInteractive.com says that Panasonic had delivered a letter to business partners indicating that the Sanyo brand would be shuttered in the first half of 2012. The magazine says that the news was coming “off the back of Panasonic forecasting its biggest annual loss in 10 years.”
With regards to Sanyo Semiconductors, ON Semiconductor sent a message to its customers on October 29, 2012, announcing that Sanyo Semiconductor's “business processes and systems have been replaced by existing ON Semiconductor practices and procedures as of Monday, October 29, 2012.”
In a May 2013 article, Reuters reports that “Sanyo may cease to exist under Panasonic reorganization.”
Reports from 2016 indicated that Panasonic was reviving the Sanyo brand only for the Indian market, which enjoyed great brand equity.