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Lenovo Group Ltd. is a Chinese multinational technology company with headquarters in Beijing, China, and Morrisville, North Carolina, United States.1 It designs, develops, manufactures and sells personal computers, tablet computers, smartphones, workstations, servers, electronic storage devices, IT management software and smart televisions. In the second quarter of 2013 Lenovo was the world's largest personal computer vendor by unit sales.4 It markets the ThinkPad line of notebook computers and the ThinkCentre line of desktops.5
Lenovo has operations in more than 60 countries and sells its products in around 160 countries. Lenovo's principal facilities are in Beijing, Morrisville and Singapore, with research centers in those locations, as well as Shanghai, Shenzhen, Xiamen, and Chengdu in China, and Yamato in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It operates a joint venture with EMC, LenovoEMC, which sells network-attached storage solutions. It also has a joint venture with NEC, Lenovo NEC Holdings, which produces personal computers for the Japanese market.
Lenovo was founded in Beijing in 1984 as Legend and was incorporated in Hong Kong in 1988. Lenovo acquired IBM's personal computer business in 2005 and agreed to acquire its Intel-based server business in 2014. Lenovo entered the smartphone market in 2012 and as of 2014 is the largest vendor of smartphones in Mainland China. In January 2014, Lenovo agreed to acquire the mobile phone handset maker Motorola Mobility from Google.
Liu founded Lenovo in 1984 with a group of ten engineers in Beijing with 200,000 yuan. Lenovo officially states that it was founded on 1 November 1984. Lenovo's incorporation was approved by the Chinese government on the same day. Jia Xufu, one of the founders of Lenovo, indicates the first meeting in preparation for starting the company was held on 17 October of the same year. Eleven people, the entirety of the initial staff, attended. Each of the founders were middle-aged members of the Institute of Computing Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. The 200,000 yuan used as start-up capital was approved by Zeng Maochao. The name for the company agreed upon at this meeting was the Chinese Academy of Sciences Computer Technology Research Institute New Technology Development Company.7
Their first significant effort, an attempt to import televisions, failed. The group rebuilt itself within a year by conducting quality checks on computers for new buyers. Lenovo soon started developing a circuit board that would allow IBM-compatible personal computers to process Chinese characters. This product was Lenovo's first major success. Lenovo also tried and failed to market a digital watch. Liu said, "Our management team often differed on which commercial road to travel. This led to big discussions, especially between the engineering chief and myself. He felt that if the quality of the product was good, then it would sell itself. But I knew this was not true, that marketing and other factors were part of the eventual success of a product." Lenovo's early difficulties were compounded by the fact that its staff had little business experience. "We were mainly scientists and didn't understand the market", Liu said. "We just learned by trial-and-error, which was very interesting¡ªbut also very dangerous", said Liu. In 1990, Lenovo started to manufacture and market computers using its own brand name.8
In May 1988, Lenovo placed its first advertisement seeking employees. The ad was placed on the front page of the China Youth News. Such ads were quite rare in China at this time. Out of 500 respondents, 280 were selected to take a written employment exam. 120 of these candidates were interviewed in person. Although interviewers initially only had authority to hire 16 people, 58 were given offers. These new hires included 18 people with graduate degrees, 37 with undergraduate degrees, and three students with no university-level education. Their average age was 26. Yang Yuanqing was among this group.7
Liu Chuanzhi, received government permission to open a subsidiary in Hong Kong and was allowed to move there along with five other employees. Liu's father, already in Hong Kong, furthered his son's ambitions through mentoring and facilitating loans. Liu moved to Hong Kong in 1988. In order to save money during this period, Liu and his co-workers walked instead of taking public transportation. In order to keep up appearances they rented hotel rooms for meetings.