When Chinese computer company Lenovo dispatched a team to New York in 2004 to discuss acquiring the personal computer division of IBM, Lenovo was an offshoot of a Chinese government research institute, and none of the leadership team had operated outside Chinese-speaking Asia. Yet they were dealing with executives from IBM, a sophisticated multinational active in 160 markets.
Once Lenovo acquired the much larger but unprofitable PC division on May 1, 2005, for US$1.75 billion, the two sides discovered that they truly didn’t understand each other.
Around 2010, after overcoming many challenges, the company finally began to click. Today, Lenovo has emerged as China’s first true multinational. Lenovo’s experience thus has broad implications for the future of China’s economy and its outreach into the world.