Profile: Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson
Born July 1950
Estimated Wealth: ┬ú3.1b*
Source: Internet, Mobile Phones & Transport (amongst many other ventures!)
Richard was born the eldest child of three siblings in Blackheath, London. His parents were affluent, with his father a successful barrister, allowing for him to be sent to the prestigious Stowe School in Buckinghamshire.
In his late teens he began his first venture, in the form of national magazine entitled Student. Success from this led to him creating mail order record company, Virgin Mail. Reportedly the name Virgin was suggested by an employee relating to their ‘first time’ in business. After the unfortunate postal strike which followed Virgin Mail’s launch, the company was developed into a discount record retailer. Early issues with debt and unpaid taxes, including a reported bail out for evading tax didn’t stop Branson, and his enthusiasm for the music industry lead to him setting up Virgin Records.
Virgin Records proved to be Branson’s first major step on the way to entrepreneurial success. Through signing The Sex Pistols, a band most record companies were keen to avoid, in addition to his friend Mike Oldfield, of Tubular Bells fame, Branson had created a brand that could entice even established bands. The likes of the Human League, Culture Club, Janet Jackson and The Rolling Stones were some of the names to feature on Virgin Records’ impressive artist list.
On the back of the success of Virgin Records, Branson was able to fund the start-up of Virgin Atlantic. Whilst initial success followed, turbulent times ensued and Branson decided to sell Virgin Records and further invest into the airline. This is where the Virgin empire really took off and Virgin Atlantic became one of the most renown Airlines, offering world class service.
Literally hundreds of other business ventures have followed, with the majority of Branson’s wealth currently accrued through Virgin Active, Virgin Money and Virgin Atlantic.
However, Branson isn’t just known for business. World record breaking feats in speed boats and balloon flights, in addition to charity work followed by a knighthood in 1999 epitomises Richard Branson with the Virgin brand.
With the multitude of Branson’s businesses located globally it’s difficult to pinpoint a preferred location. Branson himself tends to share his time between his paradise home on Necker Island, London and the US.
The head office of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays is in Crawley, West Sussex. Unsurprisingly this is within close proximity of Gatwick International Airport, Virgin Atlantic’s original base.
Something you perhaps didn’t knowΓÇª
Branson reportedly has dyslexia, cause for his poor academic performance as a student, where his school headmaster at the time predicted he would either “go to prison or become a millionaire”.
Next Week: Mark Zuckerberg
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*Estimated Wealth: Sunday Times Rich List 2011
Image attributed to David Shankbone