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Richard Branson


Date of Birth: Tuesday, July 18, 1950
AGE: 67
Occupation: Businessman

















Biography: Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is an English business magnate, best known for his Virgin Group of over 400companies.

His first successful business venture was a magazine called Student at age 16. In 1970, he set up an audio record mail-order 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 Airways and expanded the Virgin Records music label.

Richard Branson is the 5th richest person in the United Kingdom and 254th in the world according to Forbes? 2011 list of billionaires, with an estimated net worth of approximately £2.58 billion (US$4.2 billion).

Branson was born in Blackheath, London, the son and eldest child of barrister Edward James Branson and Eve Huntley Branson (nee Flindt). His grandfather, the Right Honourable Sir George Arthur Harwin Branson, was a judge of the High Court of Justice and a Privy Councillor. Branson was educated at Scaitcliffe School (now Bishopsgate School) 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.

Branson reportedly started his record business from the crypt of a church where he ran The Student. Branson advertised popular records in The Student Magazine and it was an over night success. Trading under the name "Virgin", he sold records for considerably less than the "High Street" outlets, especially the chain W. H. Smith. The name "Virgin" was suggested by one of Branson?s early employees because they were all new at business. 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. 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.

Earning enough money from his record store, Branson in 1972 launched the record label Virgin Records with Nik Powell and bought a country estate, in which he installed a recording studio. He leased out studio time to fledgling artists, including multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield, whose debut album Tubular Bells (1973) was Virgin Records? first release and 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 had made the unsuccessful bid for three ITV franchisees under the CPV-TV name.

In 1992, to keep his airline company afloat, Branson sold the Virgin label to EMI for £500 million. Branson says that he wept when the sale was completed since the record business had been the birth of the Virgin Empire. He later formed V2 Records to re-enter the music business.

Branson formed Virgin Atlantic Airways in 1984, launched Virgin Mobile in 1999, Virgin Blue in Australia (now named Virgin Australia) in 2000. He was 9th in the Sunday Times Rich List 2006, worth just over £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.

Another quote from him: "For me business is not about wearing suits, or keeping stockholders pleased. It?s about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials"

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.

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.

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.

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. As part of the sale, the company pays a minimum of £8.5 million per year to use the Virgin name and Branson became the company?s largest shareholder. The 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 in order 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.

Branson is a Star Trek fan and named his new spaceship VSS Enterprise in honour of the famous Star Trek ships, and in 2006, offered actor William Shatner a free ride on the inaugural space launch of Virgin Galactic. In an interview in Time magazine, 10 August 2009, Shatner claims 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 the New Years Honours list dated 30 December 1999, HM The Queen signified her intention to confer the honour of Knight Bachelor on him for his "services to entrepreneurship". He was knighted by HRH The Prince of Wales on 30 March 2000 at an investiture in Buckingham Palace.

With his wife Joan Templeman he has a daughter Holly (born 1981) and son Sam (born 1985). 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. 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 in the British Virgin Islands that Branson owns. He also owns land on the Caribbean Islands of Antigua and Barbuda. Holly Branson is now a doctor.




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