The road to global prominence was a winding one for Lenovo. What was once a daring idea born in a guard shack in Beijing has slowly transformed into the current leader in the computer industry, with over $40 billion in sales. While the numerous competitors are hell-bent on reclaiming their fame and fortune, they are not even close to the success that Lenovo has built in the past fifteen years. Although founded more than thirty years ago, Lenovo’s rise to worldwide acclaim was not without its difficulties, and until recently, few would have dared to predict the success it now so readily enjoys. This is the story of how Lenovo became the tech giant of the 21st century.
A man cloaked in red
Born on April 29, 1944 in a small provincial town of Zhenjiang, the destined founder of Lenovo, Liu Chuanzhi, graduated high school in 1962 and enrolled in what was once the People’s Liberation Army Institute of Telecommunication Engineering, presently known as Xidian University.
It is there that young Liu found his way into computing technologies, and assumed the position of an engineering administrator at the Computer Institute in 1970. Shortly after he started working at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, he founded Legend Holdings, the parent company of Lenovo. The child brought up behind the iron curtain of communism and blind obedience couldn’t have been prepared for the hurdles that awaited.
A blue dawn on the horizon
The ruling Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China had a strict strategy for national growth and prosperity, a set plan that would devoid the private sector of purpose and render companies such as Lenovo useless, or even detrimental to society. One could not help but think of this business venture as a fool’s errand.
Liu and his team of engineers had a different vision though, with dreams of a free market and a chance to further loosen the government’s unrelenting hold of the economy. Capitalism was not a welcomed word among the elite intellectual community of the Communist Party.
“Let a hundred flowers bloom,
Let a hundred schools of thought contend” – Mao Zedong
As the government slowly opened its economy to international trade and development, Lenovo began its ascension in the technology circles, with its first notable success in 1990 when the company started selling computers under the original brand name, Legend.
Trial and error was the name of the game for the team of engineers unfamiliar with the “ruthless” ways of the capitalist mindset, and the company had to learn from its mistakes along the way. Lenovo soon became a trade name for computer technology in China and while few could argue its success, other rival companies had their eyes on the proverbial piece of the market cake.
As the times began to change and the global financial crisis was on the rise, Lenovo was in dire need of a strategic overhaul in order to recover from its disastrous acquisition of IBM’s PC business in 2005. The company had to reinvent itself through smart management in order to stop the financial bleeding.
Salvation was found in a risky strategy enforced by Yang Yuanqing, who took over as CEO of Lenovo in 2009.
Innovation and passion
Immediately, the company turned its gaze towards the future. Aggressive acquisitions, prudent innovation, brand recognition, and decentralization were the keywords around which the company shaped its growth strategy.
Soon enough, the company experienced a staggering increase in revenue of $30 billion, with the global market share reaching 16% in 2012. Today, a powerful Lenovo desktop PC is synonymous with top notch performance and innovation in both specifications and design. With eyes firmly set on the future, the term “champion of innovation” has become a common denominator for the brand, while the decentralized management and cross-cultural efforts are swiftly paving the road to new and exciting ventures.
From humble beginnings to worldwide superstardom, Lenovo is a thriving company in a seemingly deteriorating market. Continuously pushing the boundaries of innovation, the company firmly believes in the prosperous potential of PCs and their inviolable role in shaping the future of humankind.