Gianfranco Lanci, industry icon, passes away

Gianfranco Lanci, industry icon, passes away

The global PC industry has lost one of its most iconic and significant leaders this week, as Gianfranco Lanci suddenly passed away aged 68.


The global PC industry has lost one of its most iconic and significant leaders this week, as Gianfranco Lanci suddenly passed away aged 68. He worked for Texas Instruments, Acer and Lenovo in a career that spanned 40 years in the tech industry. His achievements were spectacular, and he prospered within American, Taiwanese and Chinese companies.

In the late eighties, Gianfranco was Texas Instruments’ Italian country manager, leading the calculator division. With a group of his Italian friends, he managed to persuade the US-centric company to enter the notebook PC market, by winning a major corporate deal in his home country. By 1994, he had led TI to become a top-three notebook PC vendor in EMEA before, in 1997, leading the sale of that division to Acer.

At Acer, Gianfranco continued growing the notebook PC division, taking the company to market leadership in EMEA in 2006. His talent was soon recognized worldwide, and he became CEO of Acer in 2008. In 2010, Gianfranco bought his first vineyard, Dosio, in Alba, Italy.

In 2011, as the PC market faced its first severe downturn, Gianfranco resigned from Acer. He could have chosen to retire then, but his most significant achievements were still to come. He decided to join Lenovo, first as President of EMEA, before rising to become worldwide President and COO. In 2013, he took Lenovo to global PC market leadership, a position it retains today. Even more remarkably, he achieved a lifetime ambition in 2018, when Lenovo overtook HP to become the number one PC vendor in EMEA – a position HP had held since 2002, when it acquired Compaq. In 2021, he retired from Lenovo and bought Coppo, his third vineyard, acquiring one of Italy’s finest sparkling wines in the process.

Gianfranco’s success was all the more remarkable because he didn’t fit the classic picture of a leader. He graduated as a civil engineer from the Politecnico di Torino and, despite leading global companies, never left his home base in Northern Italy and Italian-speaking Switzerland. He was quietly spoken and retained his strong Italian accent. He remained media-shy and shunned the limelight. He avoided email and preferred to develop strategies over an Italian meal, surrounded by people he trusted. He was loyal, supporting many when their careers hit difficulties. One of his biggest strengths was that his competitors consistently underestimated him. They failed to realize that not only was Gianfranco the smartest man in the room, but also the hardest working.

He will be greatly missed by many, not least his loving family.