Lenovo Group Ltd.’s Yang Yuanqing asked for patience as he tries to get China’s top PC maker growing once more, but for the first time publicly vowed to step down as chairman and chief executive if he doesn’t deliver on a critical sales goal.

After diversifying Lenovo away from what he has called the “bread and butter” of PCs into servers, smartphones and all things Internet, Chair and CEO Yang Yuanqing is now making a play for ecommerce success as well as more investments in artificial intelligence. And he tells Bloomberg he might quit if he fails.

The recent track record of the man who has been called China’s Bill Gates, however, is mixed.

Over the past three years, Lenovo invested billions in acquiring IBM’s x86 server business in a move to cash in on data growth and more billions in buying Google’s troubled Motorola Mobility as part of a bid to make the China-based tech giant a global smartphone player. Then there is continued investment spread across PC gaming as well as the Internet of Things.

The company, which operates one of its two global headquarters in Morrisville (the other is in Beijing) has stumbled instead.

Proof? Lenovo recently surrendered its global lead in PC sales to HP.

The bread and butter is getting a little stale even as Lenovo continues to pour forth new devices and cutting-edge technology such as augmented reality phones, bigger and more powerful supercomputers, and virtual reality/augmented reality headsets (with a Star Wars spin.)

The next big plays

Yet at a technology conference in Shanghai on Wednesday, Yang showed no loss of appetite for new ventures away from bread and butter.

This time, it’s ecommerce and artificial intelligence

And he’s putting his own job on the line.

“I don’t want to step down. I’m confident we can achieve that. That’s not something worrying,” Yang told Bloomberg about the ecommerce play.

“Investors should have more patience. If you want to see the result, it will take time.”

While telling Reuters that he expected Lenovo to return to positive PC growth this fiscal year, he also spent a lot of time at the Lenovo World conference talking about new devices. Then there is that ecommerce play.

“Yang is now betting big on artificial intelligence. He wants to plough $1 billion over the next three to four years into research, joining a race with much larger rivals Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. to crank out the next generation of intelligent, user-aware devices,” Bloomberg reported.

Yang is aiming for $12 billion of sales through JD.com.

Taking on Tencent and Alibaba?

What’s a bigger task? Taking on those two or HP and Dell?

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