Richard Branson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Sir Richard Branson
5.3.10RichardBransonByDavidShankbone.jpg
Branson at the Time 100 Gala, 5 May 2010
BornRichard Charles Nicholas Branson
(1950-07-18) 18 July 1950 (age 64)
Blackheath, London, England, UK
ResidenceLondon, England
NationalityBritish
OccupationFounder and Chairman of Virgin Group
Years active1966–present
Net worthUS$4.6 billion (2013)[1]
ReligionNone (Atheist)[2]
Spouse(s)Kristen Tomassi (m. 1972–79) (divorced)
Joan Templeman (m. 1989)
Children2 daughters (1 deceased), 1 son
ParentsEve Branson
 
Jump to: navigation, search
Sir Richard Branson
5.3.10RichardBransonByDavidShankbone.jpg
Branson at the Time 100 Gala, 5 May 2010
BornRichard Charles Nicholas Branson
(1950-07-18) 18 July 1950 (age 64)
Blackheath, London, England, UK
ResidenceLondon, England
NationalityBritish
OccupationFounder and Chairman of Virgin Group
Years active1966–present
Net worthUS$4.6 billion (2013)[1]
ReligionNone (Atheist)[2]
Spouse(s)Kristen Tomassi (m. 1972–79) (divorced)
Joan Templeman (m. 1989)
Children2 daughters (1 deceased), 1 son
ParentsEve Branson

Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (born 18 July 1950) is an English business magnate and investor. He is best known as the founder of Virgin Group, which comprises more than 400 companies.[3]

At the age of sixteen his first business venture was a magazine called Student.[4] In 1970, he set up a mail-order record business. In 1972, he opened a chain of record stores, Virgin Records, later known as Virgin Megastores. Branson's Virgin brand grew rapidly during the 1980s, as he set up Virgin Atlantic and expanded the Virgin Records music label.

According to the Forbes 2012 list of billionaires, Branson is the sixth richest citizen of the United Kingdom, with an estimated net worth of US$4.6 billion.[1]

Early life

Branson was born in Blackheath, London. His father was barrister Edward James Branson (10 March 1918 – 19 March 2011).[5][6] His grandfather, the Right Honourable Sir George Arthur Harwin Branson, was a judge of the High Court of Justice and a Privy Councillor.[7] Branson was educated at Scaitcliffe School (now Bishopsgate School)[8] until the age of thirteen. He then attended Stowe School until the age of sixteen. Branson has dyslexia and had poor academic performance as a student, but later discovered his ability to connect with others.[9] On one of Branson's last days at school, his headmaster, Robert Drayson, told him he would either end up in prison or become a millionaire.[10]

Branson's parents were supportive of his endeavors from an early age. When 15-year-old Richard decided to breed budgies and persuaded his father to build a huge aviary, his father built it. Branson's parents have been described as encouraging.[11]

Career

Record business

Richard Branson started his record business from the crypt of a church where he ran The Student magazine. Branson advertised popular records in The Student and it was an overnight success. Trading under the name "Virgin", he sold records for considerably less than the "High Street" outlets, especially the chain, W. H. Smith. Branson once said, "There is no point in starting your own business unless you do it out of a sense of frustration." The name "Virgin" was suggested by one of Branson's early employees because they were all new at business.[12] At the time, many products were sold under restrictive marketing agreements that limited discounting, despite efforts in the 1950s and 1960s to limit so-called resale price maintenance.[13] In effect, Branson began the series of changes that led to large-scale discounting of recorded music.

Branson eventually started a record shop in Oxford Street in London. In 1971, Branson was questioned in connection with the selling of records in Virgin stores that had been declared export stock. The matter was never brought before a court and Branson agreed to repay any unpaid tax and a fine. Branson's mother, Eve, re-mortgaged the family home to help pay the settlement.[12]

The Manor Studio, Richard Branson's recording studio in the manor house at the village of Shipton-on-Cherwell in Oxfordshire.

Earning enough money from his record store, Branson in 1972 launched the record label Virgin Records with Nik Powell and bought a country estate north of Oxford, in which he installed a residential recording studio, The Manor Studio. He leased out studio time to fledgling artists, including multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield, whose debut album Tubular Bells (1973) was the first release for Virgin Records and it became a chart-topping best-seller.

Virgin signed such controversial bands as the Sex Pistols, which other companies were reluctant to sign. It also won praise for exposing the public to such obscure avant-garde music as Faust and Can. Virgin Records also introduced Culture Club to the music world. In the early 1980s, Virgin purchased the gay nightclub, Heaven. In 1991, in a consortium with David Frost, Richard Branson has made the unsuccessful bid for three ITV franchisees under the CPV-TV name. The early 1980s also saw his only attempt as a producer—on the novelty record, "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep", by Singing Sheep in association with Doug McLean and Grace McDonald. The recording was a series of sheep baa-ing along to a drum-machine-produced track and reached number 42 in the UK charts in 1982.

In 1992, to keep his airline company afloat, Branson sold the Virgin label to EMI for £500 million.[14] Branson said that he wept when the sale was completed because the record business had been the very start of the Virgin empire. He later created V2 Records to re-enter the music business.[15]

Business ventures

Branson formed Virgin Atlantic Airways in 1984, launched Virgin Mobile in 1999, and Virgin Blue in Australia (now named Virgin Australia) in 2000. He was ninth in the Sunday Times Rich List 2006, worth slightly more than £3 billion. Branson wrote in his autobiography of the decision to start an airline:

My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them ... from the perspective of wanting to live life to the full, I felt that I had to attempt it.

In 1993, Branson took what many saw as being one of his riskier business exploits by entering into the railway business. Virgin Trains won the franchises for the former Intercity West Coast and Cross-Country sectors of British Rail.

Virgin acquired European short-haul airline Euro Belgian Airlines in 1996 and renamed it Virgin Express. In 2006, the airline was merged with SN Brussels Airlines forming Brussels Airlines. It also started a national airline based in Nigeria, called Virgin Nigeria. Another airline, Virgin America, began flying out of San Francisco International Airport in August 2007. Branson has also developed a Virgin Cola brand and even a Virgin Vodka brand, which has not been a very successful enterprise. As a consequence of these lacklustre performers, the satirical British fortnightly magazine Private Eye has been critical of Branson and his companies (see Private Eye image caption).[16]

A series of disputes in the early 1990s caused tension between Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, which viewed Virgin as an emerging competitor. Virgin subsequently accused British Airways of poaching its passengers, hacking its computers, and leaking stories to the press that portrayed Virgin negatively. After the so-called campaign of "dirty tricks", British Airways settled the case, giving £500,000 to Branson, a further £110,000 to his airline, and had to pay legal fees of up to £3million . Branson distributed his compensation (the so-called "BA bonus") among his staff.[17]

On 25 September 2004, Branson announced the signing of a deal under which a new space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, will license the technology behind Spaceship One—funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and designed by legendary American aeronautical engineer and visionary Burt Rutan—to take paying passengers into suborbital space. Virgin Galactic (wholly owned by Virgin Group) plans to make flights available to the public with tickets priced at US$200,000 using Scaled Composites White Knight Two.[18] Branson plans to take his two children, 31-year-old Holly and 28-year-old Sam, on a trip to outer space when they ride the SpaceShipTwo rocket plane on its first public flight planned for 2014.[19]

Branson's next venture with the Virgin group is Virgin Fuels, which is set to respond to global warming and exploit the recent spike in fuel costs by offering a revolutionary, cheaper fuel for automobiles and, in the near future, aircraft. Branson has stated that he was formerly a global warming sceptic and was influenced in his decision by a breakfast meeting with Al Gore.[20]

Branson has been tagged as a "transformational leader" in the management lexicon, with his maverick strategies and his stress on the Virgin Group as an organisation driven on informality and information, one that is bottom-heavy rather than strangled by top-level management.

On 21 September 2006, Branson pledged to invest the profits of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Trains in research for environmentally friendly fuels. The investment is estimated to be worth $3 billion.[21][22]

On 4 July 2006, Branson sold his Virgin Mobile company to UK cable TV, broadband, and telephone company NTL/NTL:Telewest for almost £1 billion. A new company was launched with much fanfare and publicity on 8 February 2007, under the name Virgin Media. The decision to merge his Virgin Media Company with NTL was to integrate both of the companies' compatible parts of commerce. Branson used to own three-quarters of Virgin Mobile, whereas now he owns 15 percent of the new Virgin Media company.[23]

In 2006, Branson formed Virgin Comics and Virgin Animation, an entertainment company focused on creating new stories and characters for a global audience. The company was founded with author Deepak Chopra, filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, and entrepreneurs Sharad Devarajan and Gotham Chopra.

Branson also launched the Virgin Health Bank on 1 February 2007, offering parents-to-be the opportunity to store their baby's umbilical cord blood stem cells in private and public stem cell banks.

In June 2006, a tip-off from Virgin Atlantic led US and UK competition authorities to investigate price-fixing attempts between Virgin Atlantic and British Airways. In August 2007, British Airways was fined £271 million over the allegations. Virgin Atlantic was given immunity for tipping off the authorities and received no fine—a controversial decision the Office of Fair Trading defended as being in the public interest.[24]

On 9 February 2007, Branson announced the setting up of a new Global science and technology prize—The Virgin Earth Challenge—in the belief that history has shown that prizes of this nature encourage technological advancements for the good of mankind. The Virgin Earth Challenge will award $25 million to the individual or group who are able to demonstrate a commercially viable design that will result in the net removal of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases each year for at least ten years without countervailing harmful effects. This removal must have long-term effects and contribute materially to the stability of the Earth's climate.

Branson also announced that he would be joined in the adjudication of the prize by a panel of five judges, all world authorities in their respective fields: Al Gore, Sir Crispin Tickell, Tim Flannery, James E. Hansen, and James Lovelock. The panel of judges will be assisted in their deliberations by The Climate Group and Special Advisor to The Virgin Earth Prize Judges, Steve Howard.

In July 2007, Branson purchased his Australian home, Makepeace Island in Noosa.[25]

In August 2007, Branson announced that he bought a 20 percent stake in Malaysia's AirAsia X.[26]

Branson in April 2009 at the launch of Virgin America in Orange County, California.

On 13 October 2007, Branson's Virgin Group sought to add Northern Rock to its empire after submitting an offer that would result in Branson personally owning 30% of the company and change the company's name from Northern Rock to Virgin Money.[27] The Daily Mail ran a campaign against his bid and Vince Cable, financial spokesperson for Liberal Democrats', suggested in the House of Commons that Branson's criminal conviction for tax evasion might be felt by some as a good enough reason not to trust him with public money.[28]

On 10 January 2008, Branson's Virgin Healthcare announced that it would open a chain of health care clinics that would offer conventional medical care alongside homoeopathic and complementary therapies, a development that was welcomed by Ben Bradshaw, the UK's health minister.[29]

Plans where GPs could be paid for referring National Health Service (NHS) patients to private Virgin services were abandoned in June 2008. The BMA warned the plan would "damage clinical objectivity", there would be a financial incentive for GPs to push patients toward the Virgin services at the centre.[30] Plans to take over an NHS Practice in Swindon were abandoned subsequently, in late September 2008.[31]

In February 2009, Branson's Virgin organisation were reported as bidding to buy the former Honda Formula One team. Branson later stated an interest in Formula One, but claimed that, before the Virgin brand became involved with Honda or any other team, Formula One would have to develop a more economically efficient and environmentally responsible image. At the start of the 2009 formula one season on 28 March, it was announced that Virgin would be sponsoring the new Brawn GP team,[32] with discussions also under way about introducing a less "dirty" fuel in the medium term.[33] After the end of the season and the subsequent purchase of Brawn GP by Mercedes Benz, Branson invested in an 80% buyout of Manor Grand Prix,[34][35] with the team being renamed to Virgin Racing.

Branson and Tony Fernandes, owner of Air Asia and Lotus F1 Racing, had a bet for the 2010 F1 season where the team's boss should work on the winner's airline during a charity flight dressed as a stewardess. Fernandes escaped as the winner of the bet, as Lotus Racing ended tenth in the championship, while Virgin Racing ended twelfth and last. Branson kept his word after losing the bet, as he served his duty as a stewardess on an Air Asia flight between Perth and Kuala Lumpur on 12 May 2013.[36]

Branson and Somerset County's Natirar Resort development in New Jersey, on the Natirar Estate, opened in late 2009 with the Ninety Acres Culinary Center. It includes a restaurant run by chef David Felton, cooking school, wine school, working farm, luxury resort, and spa. The development, spearheaded by Branson and Bob Wojtowicz, sits on 500 acres which was the former estate of the King of Morocco.[37]

In 2010, Richard Branson became patron of the UK's Gordon Bennett 2010 gas balloon race, which has 16 hydrogen balloons flying across Europe.[38]

In April 2010, Branson described the closure of large parts of European airspace owing to volcanic ash as "beyond a joke". Some scientists later concluded that serious structural damage to aircraft could have occurred if passenger planes had continued to fly.[39]

In July 2012, Branson announced plans to build an orbital space launch system, designated LauncherOne.[40] Four commercial customers have already contracted for launches and two companies are developing standardised satellite buses optimised to the design of LauncherOne, in expectation of business opportunities created by the new smallsat launcher.[41]

In August 2012, the franchise for the West Coast Main Line, managed by Virgin Rail since 1997, came to an end. The contract was awarded to FirstGroup after a competitive tender process overseen by the Department for Transport. Branson had expressed his concerns about the tender process and questioned the validity of the business plan submitted by FirstGroup. When Virgin Rail lost the contract, Branson said he was convinced the civil servants had "got their maths wrong". In October, after an investigation into the bidding process, the deal was scrapped. The Transport Secretary announced there were "significant technical flaws" in the process and mistakes had been made by transport staff. Virgin Rail continue to operate the West Coast line.[42]

World record attempts

A 1998 attempt at an around-the-world balloon flight by Branson, Fossett, and Lindstrand ends in the Pacific Ocean on 25 December 1998.

Richard Branson made several world record-breaking attempts after 1985, when in the spirit of the Blue Riband he attempted the fastest Atlantic Ocean crossing. His first attempt in the "Virgin Atlantic Challenger" led to the boat capsizing in British waters and a rescue by RAF helicopter, which received wide media coverage. Some newspapers called for Branson to reimburse the government for the rescue cost. In 1986, in his "Virgin Atlantic Challenger II", with sailing expert Daniel McCarthy, he beat the record by two hours.[4] A year later his hot air balloon "Virgin Atlantic Flyer" crossed the Atlantic.

In January 1991, Branson crossed the Pacific from Japan to Arctic Canada, 6,700 miles (10,800 km), in a balloon of 2,600,000 cubic feet (74,000 m3). This broke the record, with a speed of 245 miles per hour (394 km/h).

Between 1995 and 1998 Branson, Per Lindstrand and Steve Fossett made attempts to circumnavigate the globe by balloon. In late 1998 they made a record-breaking flight from Morocco to Hawaii but were unable to complete a global flight before Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones in Breitling Orbiter 3 in March 1999.

In March 2004, Branson set a record by travelling from Dover to Calais in a Gibbs Aquada in 1 hour, 40 minutes and 6 seconds, the fastest crossing of the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle. The previous record of six hours was set by two Frenchmen.[43] The cast of Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, attempted to break this record in an amphibious vehicle which they had constructed and, while successfully crossing the channel, did not break Branson's record. They were intercepted by a Coast Guard aircraft along the way, but after Clarkson remarked "We're trying to beat 'Beardy' Branson!" the Coast Guard wished them good luck, and left.[citation needed]

In September 2008, Branson and his children made an unsuccessful attempt at an Eastbound record crossing of the Atlantic ocean under sail in the 99 feet (30 m) sloop Virgin Money.[44] The boat, also known as Speedboat, is owned by NYYC member Alex Jackson, who was a co-skipper on this passage, with Branson and Mike Sanderson. After 2 days, 4 hours, winds of force 7 to 9 (strong gale), and seas of 40 feet (12 m), a 'monster wave' destroyed the spinnaker, washed a ten-man life raft overboard and severely ripped the mainsail. She eventually continued to St. George's, Bermuda.[45]

Television, film and print

Branson has guest starred, usually playing himself, on several television shows, including Friends, Baywatch, Birds of a Feather, Only Fools and Horses, The Day Today, a special episode of the comedy Goodness Gracious Me and Tripping Over. Branson made several appearances during the nineties on the BBC Saturday morning show Live & Kicking, where he was referred to as 'the pickle man' by comedy act Trev and Simon (in reference to Branston Pickle).[46] Branson also appears in a cameo early in XTC's "Generals and Majors" video.

He was also the star of a reality television show on Fox called The Rebel Billionaire: Branson's Quest for the Best (2004), in which sixteen contestants were tested for their entrepreneurship and sense of adventure. It did not succeed as a rival show to Donald Trump's The Apprentice and only lasted one season.

His high public profile often leaves him open as a figure of satire—the 2000 AD series Zenith features a parody of Branson as a super villain, as the comic's publisher and favoured distributor and the Virgin group were in competition at the time. He is also caricatured in The Simpsons episode "Monty Can't Buy Me Love" as the tycoon Arthur Fortune, and as the ballooning megalomaniac Richard Chutney (a pun on Branson, as in Branston Pickle) in Believe Nothing. The character Grandson Richard 39 in Terry Pratchett's Wings is modelled on Branson.

He has a cameo appearance in several films: Around the World in 80 Days (2004), where he played a hot-air balloon operator; Superman Returns, where he was credited as a 'Shuttle Engineer' and appeared alongside his son, Sam, with a Virgin Galactic-style commercial suborbital shuttle at the centre of his storyline. He also has a cameo in the James Bond film Casino Royale. Here, he is seen as a passenger going through Miami Airport security check-in and being frisked – several Virgin Atlantic planes appear soon after. British Airways edited out Branson's cameo in their in-flight screening of the movie.[47]

He makes a number of brief and disjointed appearances in the cult classic documentary Derek and Clive Get the Horn which follows the exploits of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore recording their last comedy album. Branson and his mother were also featured in the documentary film, Lemonade Stories. In early 2006 on Rove Live, Rove McManus and Sir Richard pushed each other into a swimming pool fully clothed live on TV during a "Live at your house" episode.

Branson is a Star Trek fan and named his new spaceship VSS Enterprise in honour of the famous Star Trek ships, and in 2006, reportedly offered actor William Shatner a ride on the inaugural space launch of Virgin Galactic. In an interview in Time magazine, 10 August 2009, Shatner claimed that Branson approached him asking how much he would pay for a ride on the spaceship. In response, Shatner asked "how much would you pay me to do it?"

In August 2007, Branson announced on The Colbert Report that he had named a new aircraft Air Colbert. He later doused political satirist and talk show host Stephen Colbert with water from his mug. Branson subsequently took a retaliatory splash from Colbert. The interview quickly ended, with both laughing[48] as shown on the episode aired on Comedy Central on 22 August 2007. The interview was promoted on The Report as the Colbert-Branson Interview Trainwreck. Branson then made a cameo appearance on The Soup playing an intern working under Joel McHale who had been warned against getting into water fights with Stephen Colbert, and being subsequently fired.

In March 2008 he launched Virgin Mobile in India and during that period, he even played a cameo performance in Bollywood film, London Dreams.[49]

In July 2010, Branson narrated Australian sailor Jessica Watson's documentary about her solo sailing trip around the world. It premiered on ONEHD on 16 August 2010.[citation needed]

In April 2011 Branson appeared on CNN's Mainsail[50] with Kate Winslet. Together they re-enacted a famous scene[51] from the 1997 film Titanic for the cameras. On 17 August 2011, he was featured in the premier episode of Hulu's first long-form original production entitled, A Day in the Life.[52]

At the 2012 Pride of Britain Awards broadcast on ITV on 30 October, Branson, along with Michael Caine, Elton John, Simon Cowell and Stephen Fry, recited Rudyard Kipling's poem If— in tribute to the 2012 British Olympic and Paralympics heroes.[53]

In 2012, Branson became a LinkedIn Influencer.[54]

Activism

Humanitarian initiatives

In the late 1990s, Branson and musician Peter Gabriel discussed with Nelson Mandela their idea of a small, dedicated group of leaders, working objectively and without any vested personal interest to solve difficult global conflicts.[55]

On 18 July 2007, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nelson Mandela announced the formation of a new group, The Elders, in a speech he delivered on the occasion of his 89th birthday. Kofi Annan serves as Chair of The Elders and Gro Harlem Brundtland as Deputy Chair. The other members of the group are Martti Ahtisaari, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Hina Jilani, Graça Machel, Mary Robinson and Ernesto Zedillo. Desmond Tutu is an Honorary Elder. Nelson Mandela was an Honorary Elder. The Elders is independently funded by a group of donors, including Branson and Gabriel.

The Elders use their collective skills to catalyse peaceful resolutions to long-standing conflicts, articulate new approaches to global issues that are causing or may cause immense human suffering, and share wisdom by helping to connect voices all over the world. They work together to carefully consider which specific issues they will approach.

Branson's other work in South Africa includes the Branson School of Entrepreneurship, set up in 2005 as a partnership between Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation of Virgin, and entrepreneur Taddy Blecher, the founder of CIDA City Campus, a university in Johannesburg. The school aims to improve economic growth in South Africa by supporting start-ups and micro-enterprises with skills, mentors, services, networks and finance arrangements.[56][57] Fundraising activity to support the school is notably achieved by the Sunday Times Fast Track 100, sponsored by Virgin Group, at its yearly event, where places to join Richard Branson on trips to South Africa to provide coaching and mentoring to students are auctioned to attendees. In 2009, Jason Luckhurst and Boyd Kershaw of Practicus, Martin Ainscough of the Ainscough Group and Matthew Riley of Daisy Communications helped raise £150,000 through the auction.[58]

In September 2007, Richard Branson chaired the jury of the first Picnic Green Challenge, a €500,000 award for best new green initiative, set up by the Dutch "Postcode Loterij" (postcode lottery) and the PICNIC Network of creative professionals. The first Green Challenge was won by Qurrent with the Qbox.

Branson was the first celebrity guest for the popular charity fund raisers, Reserve Dinners, raising over $75,000 in one evening towards his Virgin Unite charity.[59]

In March 2008, Richard Branson hosted an environmental gathering at his private island, Necker Island, in the Caribbean with several prominent entrepreneurs, celebrities, and world leaders. They discussed global warming-related problems facing the world, hoping that this meeting will be a precursor to many more future discussions regarding similar problems. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, and Larry Page of Google were in attendance.[60]

Branson has been very supportive of Kenya during its troubles, and in May 2008 had gone to Masai Mara to open a new school (Sekenani Primary School) which has also been partly funded by Virgin Atlantic frequent flyers who volunteered their time to help with the construction. A documentary of the experience was directed by Carolyn Scott-Hamilton and filmed by David Collupy.

On 8 May 2009, Branson took over Mia Farrow's hunger strike for 3 days in protest of the Sudanese government expulsion of aid groups from the Darfur region.[61]

Richard Branson is a signatory of Global Zero (campaign), a non-profit international initiative for the elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide.[62] Since its launch in Paris in December 2008,[63] Global Zero (campaign) has grown to 300 leaders, including current and former heads of state, national security officials and military commanders, and 400,000 citizens worldwide; developed a practical step-by-step plan to eliminate nuclear weapons; launched an international student campaign with 75 campus chapters in eight countries; and produced an acclaimed documentary film, Countdown to Zero, in partnership with Lawrence Bender and Participant Media.[64]

Since 2010, Branson has served as a Commissioner on the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, a UN initiative which promotes universal access to broadband services.[65]

In 2011, Branson served on the Global Commission on Drug Policy with former political and cultural leaders of Latin America and elsewhere, "in a bid to boost the effort to achieve more humane and rational drug laws."[66]

In December, 2013 Branson urged companies to boycott Uganda because of their "anti-homosexuality bill." Branson stated that it would be "against my conscience to support this country...governments must realize that people should be able to love whoever they want."[67]

Politics

In the 1980s, Branson was briefly given the post of "litter Tsar" by Margaret Thatcher—charged with "keeping Britain tidy".[68][69] In 2005 he declared that there were only negligible differences between the two main parties on economic matters.[70] He has frequently been mentioned as a candidate for Mayor of London, and polls have suggested he would be a viable candidate, though he has yet to express interest.[71][72][73] He supports continuing British membership of the European Union and opposes having a referendum on the issue.[74]

Business practices

Branson at a conference in San Diego, California, on 8 July 2013.

Branson's business empire is owned by a complicated series of offshore trusts and companies. The Sunday Times stated that his wealth is calculated at £3 billion; if he were to retire to his Caribbean island and liquidate all of this, he would pay relatively little in tax.[75] Branson has been criticised for his business strategy, and has been accused of being a carpetbagger.[76][77][78][79] Branson responded that he is living on Necker for health rather than tax reasons.[80]

Honours and awards

In 1993, Branson was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Technology from Loughborough University.

In the New Years Honours list dated 30 December 1999, Elizabeth II signified her intention to confer the honour of Knight Bachelor on him for his "services to entrepreneurship".[81][82] He was knighted by Charles, Prince of Wales on 30 March 2000 at an investiture in Buckingham Palace.[83]

Also in 2000, Branson received the 'Tony Jannus Award' for his accomplishments in commercial air transportation.

Branson is the patron of several charities, including the International Rescue Corps and Prisoners Abroad, a registered charity which supports Britons who are detained outside the UK.

Branson appears at No. 85 on the 2002 list of "100 Greatest Britons" (sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public). Branson was also ranked in 2007's Time Magazine "Top 100 Most Influential People in the World". In 2009, Branson was voted the UK's "Celebrity Dream Boss" in an opinion poll by Cancer Research UK.[84]

On 7 December 2007, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon presented Branson with the United Nations Correspondents Association Citizen of the World Award for his support for environmental and humanitarian causes.[85]

On 24 January 2011, Branson was awarded the German Media Prize (organised by "Media Control Charts"), previously handed to former US president Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama.

On 14 November 2011, Branson was awarded the ISTA Prize by the International Space Transport Association in The Hague for his pioneering achievements in the development of suborbital transport systems with "Virgin Galactic".[86]

On 11 February 2012, Branson was honoured with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences' President's Merit Award for his contributions to the music industry. The event took place the night before the 54th Grammy Awards.[87]

On 2 June 2013, Branson received an honorary degree of Doctor Honoris Causa from Kaunas Technology University in Kaunas, Lithuania.[88]

On 15 May 2014, Branson received the 2014 Business for Peace Award, awarded annually by the Business for Peace Foundation in Oslo, Norway.[89]

Personal life

Branson has a daughter named Holly and a son named Sam. He stated in an interview with Piers Morgan that he and wife Joan had a daughter named Clare Sarah who died when she was just four days old in 1979.[90] The couple wed—at their daughter Holly's suggestion when she was eight years old—in 1989 at Necker Island, a 74-acre (30 ha) island owned by Branson in the British Virgin Islands.[91]

In 1998, Branson released his autobiography, titled Losing My Virginity, an international best-seller.[92]

Branson was deeply saddened by the disappearance of fellow adventurer Steve Fossett in September 2007; the following month he wrote an article for Time magazine, titled "My Friend, Steve Fossett".[93]

Influences

Branson has stated in a number of interviews that he derives much influence from non-fiction books. He most commonly names Nelson Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, explaining that Mandela was "one of the most inspiring men I have ever met and had the honour to call my friend." Owing to his interest in humanitarian and ecological issues, Branson also lists Al Gore's best-selling book, An Inconvenient Truth, and The Revenge of Gaia by James Lovelock amongst his favourites. According to Branson's book, Screw It, Let's do It. Lessons in Life, he is also a huge fan of works by Jung Chang.[94]

References

  1. ^ a b "Richard Branson". Forbes. March 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  2. ^ Losing My Virginity (p.239) "I do not believe in God, but as I sat there in the damaged [balloon] capsule, hopelessly vulnerable to the slightest shift in weather or mechanical fault, I could not believe my eyes."
  3. ^ "London's 1000 most influential people 2010: Tycoons & Retailers". Evening Standard. London. 26 November 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  4. ^ a b McKenzie, Sheena (25 April 2013) "Back to the future for Richard Branson's retro 80s speedboat". CNN Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  5. ^ "Edward Branson". The Daily Telegraph (London). 8 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "Births", The Times, 12 July 1950, pg. 1
  7. ^ "Forthcoming Marriages", The Times, 22 June 1949, pg.7.
  8. ^ "Welcome to Bishopsgate School". Retrieved 19 September 2006. 
  9. ^ "Famous people with Dyslexia". Dyslexiaonline.com. 30 March 2010. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  10. ^ Schwartz, Emily (7 November 2012). "Richard Branson and the dyslexia advantage.". Washington Post. 
  11. ^ Shavinina, Larisa V (December 2006). "Micro-social factors in the development of entrepreneurial giftedness: the case of Richard Branson". High Ability Studies 17 (2). 
  12. ^ a b Richard Branson – Losing my Virginity
  13. ^ Another example was the "Net Book Agreement", which limited the ability of book outlets, including discount book clubs, to offer deep discounts.
  14. ^ "Profile: Richard Branson". The BBC. 27 September 2004. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  15. ^ "Richard Branson and Virgin-Probably Britains best known Entrepreneur". Solar Navigator.net. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  16. ^ Private Eye had been one of the few nationally distributed magazines that carried advertising for his mail-order business.
  17. ^ Lee Glendinning (2 August 2007). "Row over dirty tricks led to decade of hostilities". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  18. ^ Klotz, Irene (11 November 2013). "Profile : Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Galactic". Space News. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  19. ^ Boyle, Alan. "First family of space: Richard Branson and kids will blaze new trail". NBC News. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  20. ^ "ABC News: Breakfast With Al Gore Persuades Branson to Pledge Billions to Global Warming". ABC News. 22 September 2006. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  21. ^ "Come fly with me, come give it away". Retrieved 23 September 2006. 
  22. ^ "Virgin Group to Invest $3 Billion in Renewable Energy". Retrieved 12 October 2006. 
  23. ^ Fryer, Pat (23 January 2007). "Uma Thurman to promote Virgin Media". earthtimes.org. Retrieved 2 February 2007. 
  24. ^ Ruth Sunderland (5 August 2007). "',OFT defends 'snitch' policy',, Ruth Sunderland, The Guardian, Sunday 5 August 2007". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  25. ^ "Sir Richard Branson's paradise island". CNN GO (CNN International). July 20, 2011. Retrieved 23 May 2012. 
  26. ^ Thelwell, Emma (10 August 2007). "Virgin Group buys AirAsia X stake". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  27. ^ David Teather, Julia Finch and Graeme Wearden (13 October 2007). "Branson dangles offer for Northern Rock". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  28. ^ Phillip Inman (12 December 2007). "Northern Rock bidder threatens to pull out unless takeover date set, Business". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  29. ^ Barker, Alex; Timmins, Nick (10 January 2008). "Branson launches healthcare business". Financial Times. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  30. ^ "Virgin amends its profit plans". / Healthcare Republic. 11 July 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  31. ^ "Virgin drops GP practice plans". / Nursing in Practice. 22 September 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  32. ^ Branson's Virgin Group to sponsor Brawn GP, www.crash.net
  33. ^ Virgin Become Brawn Gp's Title Sponsor, Bleacher Report
  34. ^ "UpdateF1 >> Formula 1 News > FIA release 2010 entry list". Formula-1.updatesport.com. 12 June 2009. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  35. ^ "Virgin set for Manor GP move". Autosport. 3 July 2009. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  36. ^ Virgin's Sir Richard Branson turns stewardess after losing bet, BBC News
  37. ^ Natirar: Our Story http://natirar.com/index.php/vision/our_story/
  38. ^ "Welcome! , 54th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett 2010 Official Site". Gordonbennett2010.com. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  39. ^ Independent.ie Blog: (26 April 2011). "Steve Connor: Airspace closure due to ash cloud fears 'was right move'". Irish Independent. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  40. ^ Amos, Jonathan (11 July 2012). "Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic to launch small satellites". BBC News. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  41. ^ "Virgin Galactic relaunches its smallsat launch business". NewSpace Journal. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  42. ^ West Coast Main Line deal scrapped after contract flaws discovered
  43. ^ BBC News (14 June 2004). "Branson sets cross-Channel record". BBC News. Retrieved 13 June 2007. 
  44. ^ "Richard Branson sets out to crack transatlantic sail record". meeja.com.au. 3 September 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2008. 
  45. ^ "Virgin Money Is Attempting to Break Transatlantic Passage Record". nyyc.org. 23 October 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2008. 
  46. ^ "on". Saturdaymornings.co.uk. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  47. ^ "BA cuts Branson from Bond movie". BBC News. 21 April 2007. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  48. ^ "Colbert Report – Richard Branson". Comedy Central. 26 May 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  49. ^ "Neha Dhupia swept off her feet by Richard Branson : Bollywood News". ApunKaChoice.Com. 4 March 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  50. ^ "Show Pages - MainSail". 31 May 2011. 
  51. ^ TheHyperbot1 (22 April 2011). "Branson, Winslet – Titanic Scene". YouTube. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  52. ^ Emami, Gazelle (17 August 2011). "Morgan Spurlock 'A Day in the Life': Original Series Premieres on Hulu (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  53. ^ "Golden ode: Stars create Olympic Pride of Britain poetry tribute". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 1 November 2012
  54. ^ Richard Branson joins LinkedIn 'influencers' - News. Virgin.com (2012-10-03). Retrieved on 2013-07-18.
  55. ^ Help Free The Children With Richard Branson, www.looktothestars.org
  56. ^ "Virgin Unite". Virgin Unite. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  57. ^ Ruddick, Graham (July 25, 2009). "Sir Richard Branson teaches African entrepreneurs Dragons' Den-style". The Telegraph. Retrieved July 3, 2014. 
  58. ^ Richard Branson appearances booking agent, www.athletepromotions.com
  59. ^ Reserve Dinners.
  60. ^ "Thinking Green While Sifting Through the Sand" The New York Times article published 22 March 2008
  61. ^ "Farrow ends Darfur protest fast" (Press release). BBC. 9 May 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  62. ^ "Group Offers Plan to Eliminate Nukes by 2030". The New York Times. 29 June 2009. 
  63. ^ Corera, Gordon (10 December 2008). "Group seeks nuclear weapons ban". BBC. 
  64. ^ Clift, Eleanor. "A Good Start: 'Global Zero' reminds us that eradicating nuclear weapons should still be our ultimate goal". Newsweek. 
  65. ^ "Commissioners". Broadbandcommission.org. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  66. ^ Smith, Phillip (27 January 2011). "Ex-World Leaders Form Global Drug Policy Commission". stopthedrugwar.org. Retrieved 12 July 2011. 
  67. ^ "Richard Branson condemns Uganda over anti-gay bill". Global Post. 26 December 2013. 
  68. ^ Byers, David (3 December 2005). "Britsaver-an accident waiting to happen.". The Times (London). Retrieved 27 August 2007. 
  69. ^ Heintke, Martina. "Sir Richard Branson". Archived from the original on 17 August 2007. Retrieved 27 August 2007. 
  70. ^ "Labour and Tories same – Branson". BBC News. 15 April 2005. Retrieved 23 September 2006. 
  71. ^ "Do Blacks Need a New London Mayor?" (– Scholar search). Archived from the original on 3 October 2006. Retrieved 27 August 2007. 
  72. ^ Londoners snub politicians for mayor. BBC News. 28 April 1998. Retrieved 27 August 2007. 
  73. ^ Who's in the running for mayor?. BBC News. 10 April 1998. Retrieved 27 August 2007. 
  74. ^ Stadlen, Matthew. "An EU vote? ridiculous". The Telegraph. 26 October 2013. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  75. ^ Watson, Roland. "The Sunday Times: Britain". The Times (London). Retrieved 1 January 2007. [dead link]
  76. ^ Chakrabortty, Aditya (21 November 2011). "Is Richard Branson all he's cracked up to be?". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 April 2013.  Branson's reply is here [1].
  77. ^ Aditya Chakrabortty (24 June 2013). "Don't be fooled by Richard Branson's defence of Virgin trains". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 27 June 2013.  Branson's response is here [2].
  78. ^ Aditya Chakrabortty (10 June 2013). "The truth about Richard Branson's Virgin Rail profits". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  79. ^ James Salmon (14 October 2012). "Branson eyes RBS bargain: After £1.65bn deal collapses, tycoon could bid just £650m for 316 branches". dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  80. ^ Garside, Juliette (13 October 2013). "Richard Branson denies being a tax exile". www.theguardian.com. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  81. ^ Official announcement knighthood. The London Gazette. 30 December 1999.
  82. ^ "New Years Honours". BBC News. 31 December 1999. Retrieved 23 September 2006. 
  83. ^ "Virgin tycoon is knighted". BBC News. 30 March 2000. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  84. ^ "Branson beats Obama as celebrity dream boss", Cancer Research UK website. Retrieved 12 August 2009.
  85. ^ "UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENTS ASSOCIATION (UNCA) AWARDS CITIZEN OF THE WORLD AWARD TO RICHARD BRANSON AND HONOURS OTHER LEADING JOURNALISTS". MaximsNews Network. 7 December 2007. Retrieved 12 December 2007. 
  86. ^ "La première assurance pour les voyageurs de l'espace voit le jour". Le Parisien (in French). 14 November 2011. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  87. ^ The Recording Academy, Clive Davis Partner For Pre-GRAMMY Gala
  88. ^ Sir Richard Branson Awarded the Title of Honorary Doctor of KTU | KAUNAS UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY. En.ktu.lt. Retrieved on 2013-07-18.
  89. ^ "Meet the 2014 Honourees | Business for Peace Foundation". Businessforpeace.no. 2014-04-11. Retrieved 2014-05-26. 
  90. ^ "Piers Morgan interviews Richard Branson, Richard talks about death of baby". Baby Chums. 22 February 2009. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  91. ^ Bussmann, Jane (23 April 2001). "Necker Island Richard Branson's exclusive retreat". Daily Mail (UK). 
  92. ^ "Losing My Virginity – How I've Survived, Had Fun, And Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way". Bestsellersreviews.com. 3 July 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  93. ^ Branson, Richard (10 October 2007). "',Time',". Time. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  94. ^ "'Richard Branson's reading influences'". Infloox.com. Retrieved 26 July 2013. 

Further reading

Bibliography

External links