SAN FRANCISCO (USA TODAY) – Engineers are at a premium, yet Lenovo landed a new product engineer and celebrity pitchman when it inked a partnership with Ashton Kutcher on Tuesday night.
"It's somewhat of a dual role," Kutcher told USA TODAY in a phone interview hours before a live-streaming broadcast to announce his appointment and the introduction of the PC maker's Yoga Tablet. Shortly after the event, Kutcher was scheduled to fly to China to meet with Lenovo engineers and executives.
Kutcher, who studied biochemical engineering at the University of Iowa (he did not graduate) and has a proven track record in tech investments, intends to offer advice on design and software for Yoga tablets. "Lenovo makes really, really, really good hardware," he said. "I hope to make their products as consumer friendly as possible."
The partnership amounts to a calculated risk for Lenovo and the star of the CBS comedy, Two and a Half Men. But that is precisely why Kutcher — who has relationships with Apple, Google and others — took the gig. "If you look at my career, what's constant is I like to take risks — so does Lenovo," Kutcher said.
"Lenovo is all about innovation and strong leadership," said Kutcher, co-founder of A-Grade Investments, which has invested in or worked with Airbnb, Foursquare, Spotify, Path, Uber and others.
"This partnership goes beyond traditional bounds by deeply integrating him into our organization as a product engineer," said David Roman, chief marketing officer at Lenovo. "Ashton will help us break new ground by challenging assumptions, bringing new perspective and contributing his technical expertise to Yoga Tablet and other devices."
Financial terms of the multi-year partnership were not disclosed.
Kutcher, who played the title character in the recently released biopic of Steve Jobs, said he was "figuring logistics" for his new job. Among his responsibilities is meeting with engineers of the world's largest PC maker globally.