Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of

MORRISVILLE, N.C. – Liu Chuanzhi, Lenovo’s chairman and new chairman of parent firm Legend Holdings, just keeps making news. Now he’s also a venture capitalist, having invested in a new startup launched by Google’s former top executive in China.

Plus, in an interview with The Financial Times published Wednesday, Liu offered insight into how he plans to change Legend Holdings into an industrial conglomerate largely free of ties to the Chinese government. (See Tuesday’s Skinny about the maneuverings that have put Liu in charge of Legend and how the Chinese Science Academy is lessening its role in Legend, thus impacting Lenovo as well.)

Talking with The FT’s Kathrin Hille in Beijing, Liu said he wants to free Legend from links to the Chinese government because he believes that will lead to more business opportunities overseas.

Remember back when Lenovo first acquired IBM’s PC division that was largely based here in the Triangle and then made a major sale to the U.S. State Department? An uproar ensued with critics charging Lenovo could bug the hardware since it was linked to the Chinese government.

Liu obviously hasn’t forgotten. He told The FT that Lenovo had encountered "difficulties in the past with government-related orders as it was seen as a state-controlled company.”

"There will be further changes to Legend’s shareholding structure," he added.

The reconfigured Legend plans to invest heavily in companies outside of Lenovo, which is based in Morrisville but maintains most of its operations in China.

As for his personal interests, Liu is among the identified investors for “Innovation Works,” the “business creation” platform that Kai-Fu Lee launched this week. In announcing his new venture, the former president of Google Greater China said he had raised $115 million from “an elite group of venture investors.”

Those include: Liu; Steve Chen, a co-founder of YouTube; Terry Gou, chairman of Foxconn; and Yu Minghong. Chairman of New Oriental. The lead corporate venture investor is WI Harper Group.

Lee plans to focus on Internet, mobile computing and cloud computing as well as mentoring Chinese entrepreneurs.

“With the resilience of the Chinese economy, the abundance of late-stage funding, the newly established China Growth Market Second Board, the emerging 3G and cloud computing, and the exceptional talent pool in China, this is the perfect timing for Dr. Lee’s Innovation Works platform,” Liu said in a statement.

Apparently Liu also believes the time is right to grow Legend – and Lenovo along with it.