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The Info List - Richard Branson


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Sir
Sir
Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (born 18 July 1950) is an English business magnate, investor and philanthropist.[4] He founded the Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies.[5] Branson expressed his desire to become an entrepreneur at a young age. His first business venture, at the age of 16, was a magazine called Student. In 1970, he set up a mail-order record business. He opened a chain of record stores, Virgin Records—later known as Virgin Megastores—in 1972. Branson's Virgin brand grew rapidly during the 1980s, as he set up Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic
airline and expanded the Virgin Records music label. In March 2000, Branson was knighted at Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
for "services to entrepreneurship".[6] For his work in retail, music and transport (with interests in land, air, sea and space travel), his taste for adventure, and for his humanitarian work, he became a prominent figure.[7][8] In 2002, he was named in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.[9] In 2004, he founded spaceflight corporation Virgin Galactic, based at Mojave Air and Space Port, noted for the SpaceShipOne
SpaceShipOne
project. In November 2017, Forbes
Forbes
listed Branson's estimated net worth at $5.1 billion.[10]

Contents

1 Early life 2 Career

2.1 Record business 2.2 Business ventures 2.3 SeaWorld

3 World record attempts 4 Television, film and print 5 Humanitarian initiatives

5.1 Climate change pledge

6 Politics 7 Honours and awards 8 Controversies

8.1 Tax evasion 8.2 Assault allegation

9 Personal life 10 Influences 11 Bibliography 12 References 13 External links

Early life[edit] Branson was born in Blackheath, London, the eldest of three children of Eve Branson
Eve Branson
(née Evette Huntley Flindt; born 1924), a former ballet dancer and air hostess, and Edward James Branson (1918–2011), a barrister.[11][12] He has two younger sisters.[13] His grandfather, the Right Honourable Sir
Sir
George Arthur Harwin Branson, was a judge of the High Court of Justice
High Court of Justice
and a Privy Councillor.[14] Branson was educated at Scaitcliffe School, a prep school in Surrey, before briefly attending Cliff View House School in Sussex.[15] His third great-grandfather, John Edward Branson, left England for India
India
in 1793; John Edward's father, Harry Wilkins Branson, later joined him in Madras. On the show Finding Your Roots, Branson was shown to have 3.9% South Asian (Indian) DNA, likely through intermarriage.[12] He attended Stowe School, an independent school in Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire
until the age of sixteen.[15] Branson has dyslexia and had poor academic performance; on his last day at school, his headmaster, Robert Drayson, told him he would either end up in prison or become a millionaire.[15] Branson's parents were supportive of his endeavours from an early age.[16] His mother was an entrepreneur; one of her most successful ventures was building and selling wooden tissue boxes and wastepaper bins.[17] Career[edit] Record business[edit] Branson started his record business from the church where he ran Student magazine. He interviewed several prominent personalities of the late 1960s for the magazine including Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger
and R. D. Laing.[18] Branson advertised popular records in Student, and it was an overnight success.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21] Branson eventually started a record shop in Oxford Street
Oxford Street
in London. In 1971, he 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 because Branson agreed to repay any unpaid tax and a fine. His mother Eve re-mortgaged the family home in order to help pay the settlement.[20]

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

Earning enough money from his record store, Branson in 1972 launched the record label Virgin Records
Virgin Records
with Nik Powell, and bought a country estate north of Oxford
Oxford
in which he installed a residential recording studio, The Manor Studio.[22] He leased studio time to fledgling artists, including multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield, whose debut album Tubular Bells
Tubular Bells
(1973) was the first release for Virgin Records and became a chart-topping best-seller.[23] Virgin signed such controversial bands as the Sex Pistols, which other companies were reluctant to sign. Virgin Records
Virgin Records
would go on to sign other artists including the Rolling Stones, Peter Gabriel, UB40, Steve Winwood and Paula Abdul, and to become the world's largest independent record label.[24] It also won praise for exposing the public to such obscure avant-garde music as Faust and Can. Virgin Records
Virgin Records
also introduced Culture Club
Culture Club
to the music world. In 1982, Virgin purchased the gay nightclub Heaven. In 1991, in a consortium with David Frost, Branson made an 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.[25] In 1992, to keep his airline company afloat, Branson sold the Virgin label to EMI
EMI
for £500 million.[26] Branson said that he wept when the sale was completed because the record business had been the very start of the Virgin empire. He created V2 Records
V2 Records
in 1996 in order to re-enter the music business, owning 5% himself.[27] Business ventures[edit] Main article: Timeline of Richard Branson's business ventures Branson formed Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic
Airways in 1984, launched Virgin Mobile in 1999, and Virgin Blue
Virgin Blue
in Australia (now named Virgin Australia) in 2000. He was ninth in The Sunday Times Rich List 2006 of the wealthiest people or families in the UK, 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."

Branson's first successful entry into the airline industry was during a trip to Puerto Rico. His flight was cancelled, so he decided to charter his own plane the rest of the way and offer a ride to the rest of the stranded passengers for a small fee in order to cover the cost.[28] 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
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. 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
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
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 £3 million. Branson distributed his compensation (the so-called "BA bonus") among his staff.[29] 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
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
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
Scaled Composites
White Knight Two.[30] At the time, Branson said that he planned 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
SpaceShipTwo
rocket plane on its first public flight then planned for 2014.[31] As part of his promotion of the firm, Branson has added a variation of the Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic
livery to his personal business jet, the Dassault Falcon 900EX
Dassault Falcon 900EX
"Galactic Girl" (G-GALX).[32][33] Branson's next venture with the Virgin group was Virgin Fuels, which was set up 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.[34] On 21 September 2006, Branson pledged to invest the profits of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Trains
Virgin Trains
in research for environmentally-friendly fuels. The investment is estimated to be worth $3 billion.[35][36] On 4 July 2006, Branson sold his Virgin Mobile
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
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
Virgin Media
company.[37] In 2006, Branson formed Virgin Comics
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.

Branson with Alberto Hazan in June 2007 helping launch Virgin Radio Italia

In June 2006, a tip-off from Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic
led both UK and US competition authorities to investigate price-fixing attempts between Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic
and British Airways. In August 2007, British Airways was fined £271 million over the allegations. Virgin Atlantic
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.[38] 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 was to 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. In July 2007, Branson purchased his Australian home, Makepeace Island, in Noosa.[39] In August 2007, Branson announced that he bought a 20-percent stake in Malaysia's AirAsia X.[40]

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

On 13 October 2007, Branson's Virgin Group
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 changing the company's name from Northern Rock
Northern Rock
to Virgin Money.[41] The Daily Mail
Daily Mail
ran a campaign against his bid; Vince Cable, financial spokesperson for the 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.[42] 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 homeopathic and complementary therapies, a development that was welcomed by Ben Bradshaw, the UK's health minister.[43] 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.[44] Plans to take over an NHS Practice in Swindon were abandoned in late September 2008.[45] In February 2009, Branson's Virgin organisation was reported as bidding to buy the former Honda Formula One
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
Formula One
would have to develop a more economically efficient and environmentally responsible image. At the start of the 2009 Formula One
Formula One
season on 28 March, it was announced that Virgin would be sponsoring the new Brawn GP team,[46] with discussions also under way about introducing a less "dirty" fuel in the medium term.[47] After the end of the season and the subsequent purchase of Brawn GP
Brawn GP
by Mercedes Benz, Branson invested in an 80% buyout of Manor Grand Prix,[48][49] with the team being renamed Virgin Racing. In 2010, Virgin Hotels
Virgin Hotels
was launched under the Virgin Group. In February 2018 Branson announced the first Virgin hotel would open in Edinburgh.[50] Branson and Tony Fernandes, owner of Air Asia
Air Asia
and Lotus F1 Racing, had a bet for the 2010 F1 season
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
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
Air Asia
flight between Perth and Kuala Lumpur on 12 May 2013.[51]

Branson at the Time 100 Gala in May 2010. Known for his informal dress code, this was a rare occasion he didn't wear an open shirt.

In 2010, Branson became patron of the UK's Gordon Bennett 2010 gas balloon race, which has 16 hydrogen balloons flying across Europe.[52] 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.[53] In April 2012, Virgin Care
Virgin Care
commenced a five-year contract for provision of a range of health services which had previously been under the aegis of NHS Surrey, the local primary care trust.[54] By March 2015 Virgin Care
Virgin Care
was in charge of over 230 services nationwide.[55] In July 2012, Branson announced plans to build an orbital space launch system, designated LauncherOne.[56] 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.[57] 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 Patrick McLoughlin
Patrick McLoughlin
announced there were "significant technical flaws" in the process and mistakes had been made by transport staff. Virgin Rail continues to operate the West Coast line.[58] In September 2014, Branson announced his investment in drone company 3D Robotics
3D Robotics
stating, "It's amazing to see what a little flying object with a GoPro attached can do. Before they came along the alternative was an expensive helicopter and crew. I'm really excited about the potential 3D Robotics
3D Robotics
sees in drones. They can do a lot of good in the world, and I hope this affordable technology will give many more people the chance to see our beautiful planet from such a powerful perspective."[59] In November 2015, Branson announced the addition of Moskito Island to the Virgin Limited Edition
Virgin Limited Edition
portfolio. This resort, The Branson Estate on Moskito Island, offers 11 bedrooms for 22 guests.[60] In 2017, Virgin Group
Virgin Group
and Branson invested in Hyperloop One, developing a strategic partnership between the two. Branson joined the board of directors,[61] and in December 2017 became its chairman.[62] Branson has been involved in many failed business ventures, such as Virgin Cola, Virgin Cars, Virgin Publishing, Virgin Clothing and Virgin Brides.[63] SeaWorld[edit] Branson has been criticised by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation organisation for profiting from selling trips to SeaWorld
SeaWorld
and similar themed parks that hold dolphins, whales and other sea life in captivity for entertainment purposes.[64][65] World record attempts[edit]

The capsule from the Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic
Flyer balloon on display at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England

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

Branson made several world record-breaking attempts after 1985, when in the spirit of the Blue Riband
Blue Riband
he attempted the fastest Atlantic Ocean crossing. His first attempt in the " Virgin Atlantic
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
Virgin Atlantic
Challenger II", with sailing expert Daniel McCarthy, he beat the record by two hours.[66] A year later his hot air balloon " Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic
Flyer" crossed the Atlantic.[67] 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, Vladimir Dzhanibekov, Larry Newman, and Steve Fossett
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
Bertrand Piccard
and Brian Jones in Breitling Orbiter 3
Breitling Orbiter 3
in March 1999. In March 2004, Branson set a record by travelling from Dover
Dover
to Calais in a Gibbs Aquada
Gibbs Aquada
in 1 hour, 40 minutes and 6 seconds, the fastest crossing of the English Channel
English Channel
in an amphibious vehicle. The previous record of six hours was set by two Frenchmen.[68] The cast of Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson, James May
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. After being intercepted by the Coast Guard and asked what their intentions were, Clarkson remarked "..our intentions are to go across the Channel faster than 'Beardy' Branson!". The Coast Guard wished them good luck and left.[69] 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.[70] The boat, also known as Speedboat, is owned by NYYC
NYYC
member Alex Jackson, who was a co-skipper on this passage, with Branson and Mike Sanderson. After two days, four 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.[71] Television, film and print[edit]

Branson at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival.

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
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).[72] 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. According to Trump, Branson's "show was terrible. And I thought he was terribly miscast. He’s a lot of hot air, like his balloons".[63] 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
The Simpsons
episode "Monty Can't Buy Me Love" as the tycoon Arthur Fortune, as the ballooning megalomaniac Richard Chutney (a pun on Branson, as in Branston Pickle) in Believe Nothing, and voiced himself in "The Princess Guide". 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, and Superman Returns (2006), 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
James Bond
film Casino Royale (2006). Here, he is seen as a passenger going through Miami Airport
Miami Airport
security check-in and being frisked – several Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic
planes appear soon after. British Airways
British Airways
edited out Branson's cameo in their in-flight screening of the movie.[73] He makes a number of brief and disjointed appearances in the documentary Derek and Clive Get the Horn
Derek and Clive Get the Horn
(1979), which follows the exploits of Peter Cook
Peter Cook
and Dudley Moore
Dudley Moore
recording their final comedy album. Branson and his mother were also featured in the documentary film Lemonade Stories. On the TV series Rove Live in early 2006, Rove McManus
Rove McManus
and Sir
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
Star Trek
fan and named his new spaceship VSS Enterprise in honour of the Star Trek
Star Trek
spaceships, and in 2006, reportedly offered actor William Shatner
William Shatner
a ride on the inaugural space launch of Virgin Galactic. In an interview in Time magazine, published on 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
The Colbert Report
that he had named a new aircraft Air Colbert. He later doused political satirist and talk show host Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert
with water from his mug. Branson subsequently took a retaliatory splash from Colbert. The interview quickly ended, with both laughing[74] as shown on the episode aired on Comedy Central
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 in 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
Virgin Mobile
in India; during that period, he made a cameo appearance in Bollywood
Bollywood
film London
London
Dreams.[75] In July 2010, Branson narrated Australian sailor Jessica Watson's documentary about her solo sailing trip around the world. In April 2011, Branson appeared on CNN's Mainsail with Kate Winslet.[76] Together they re-enacted a famous scene from the 1997 film Titanic for the cameras.[77] 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.[78] At the 2012 Pride of Britain Awards on ITV on 30 October, Branson, along with Michael Caine, Elton John, Simon Cowell
Simon Cowell
and Stephen Fry, recited Rudyard Kipling's poem "If—" in tribute to the 2012 British Olympic and Paralympics athletes.[79] Humanitarian initiatives[edit] In the late 1990s, Branson and musician Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel
discussed with Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
their idea of a small group of leaders working to solve difficult global conflicts.[80] On 18 July 2007, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Mandela announced the formation of a new group, The Elders. Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan
serves as Chair of The Elders and Gro Harlem Brundtland as Deputy Chair. The Elders is funded by a group of donors, including Branson and Gabriel.

Richard Branson
Richard Branson
with his mother Eve, and the Board of Directors of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children

In 1999, Branson became a founding sponsor of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children ("ICMEC"), the goal of which is to help find missing children, and to stop the exploitation of children, as his mother Eve became a founding member of ICMEC's Board of Directors.[81][82] Through the Carbon War Room, founded in 2009, the entrepreneur sought solutions for global warming and the energy crisis. "We all have a part to play, but I believe entrepreneurs will have a really significant role to play in bringing investment and commercial skills to help develop the new technologies needed to grow a post-carbon economy", he said in his interview with Vision. Through Carbon War Room initiative he has focused efforts on finding sustainable alternatives for three industry sectors: shipping, energy efficiency and aviation and renewable jet fuels.[83] He also launched Virgin Startup, an official delivery partner for the UK's Start Up Loans programme. Through this new organisation, he was to provide loans to entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 30 UK-wide. A pilot of the scheme, which ran over 11 months, injected £600,000 into 100 businesses.[83] 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.[84][85] Fundraising activity to support the school is achieved by The Sunday Times Fast Track 100, sponsored by Virgin Group, at its yearly event, where places to join Richard Branson
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.[86] In March 2008, 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 the meeting would be a precursor to future discussions regarding similar problems. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, co-founder Jimmy Wales, and Larry Page
Larry Page
of Google
Google
were in attendance.[87] On 8 May 2009, Branson took over Mia Farrow's hunger strike for three days in protest of the Sudanese government expulsion of aid groups from the Darfur
Darfur
region.[88] In 2010, he and the Nduna Foundation (founded by Amy Robbins), and Humanity United (an organization backed by Pam Omidyar, the wife of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar) founded Enterprise Zimbabwe.[89]

Branson at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
in 2012.

Branson is a signatory of Global Zero campaign, a non-profit international initiative for the elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide.[90] Since its launch in Paris in December 2008,[91] Global Zero 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 a documentary film, Countdown to Zero, in partnership with Lawrence Bender
Lawrence Bender
and Participant Media.[92] 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.[93] 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."[94] In December 2013, Branson urged companies to boycott Uganda
Uganda
because of its "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."[95] In 2014, Branson joined forces with African Wildlife Foundation
African Wildlife Foundation
and partner WildAid for the "Say No" Campaign, an initiative to bring public awareness to the issues of wildlife poaching and trafficking.[96] Branson is an opponent of the death penalty, stating: "the death penalty is always cruel, barbaric and inhumane. It has no place in the world."[97] The U.S. is one of the few countries that practiced the death penalty in 2015, and on 30 September 2015 Branson released a letter in support of American inmate Richard Glossip on the day he was due to be executed, buying an ad in The Oklahoman
The Oklahoman
newspaper which had advocated the execution.[98] Branson stated the evidence against Glossip was flawed and that "every person is deserving of a fair trial", adding: "Your state is about to execute a man whose guilt has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt."[98] Climate change pledge[edit] In 2006, Branson made a high-profile pledge to invest $3 billion toward addressing global warming over the course of the following decade.[99][100] However, author and activist Naomi Klein
Naomi Klein
has criticised Branson for contributing "well under $300 million" as of 2014, far below the originally stated goal.[101] Additionally, Klein says Virgin airlines' greenhouse gas emissions increased considerably in the years following his pledge.[102] Politics[edit] In the 1980s, Branson was briefly given the post of "litter Tsar" by Margaret Thatcher—charged with "keeping Britain tidy".[103][104] In 2005 he declared that there were only negligible differences between the two main parties on economic matters.[105] He was suggested as a candidate for Mayor of London
London
before the first 2000 election, with polls indicating he would be a viable candidate, but he did not express interest.[106][107][108] Branson has supported continuing British membership of the European Union and was opposed to the 2016 referendum.[109] On 28 June 2016, interviewed for ITV's Good Morning Britain, he said that his company had lost a third of its value as a result of the referendum result and that a planned venture, employing over 3,000 people, which he had announced before the referendum, had been shelved. He gave his backing for a second referendum.[110] In August 2016 he publicly attacked Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn
in what became known as the traingate scandal.[111] It subsequently became apparent that the pictures released by Branson were misleading.[112][113] Honours and awards[edit]

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

In 1993, Branson was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Technology from Loughborough University.[114] In the New Years Honours list dated 30 December 1999, Elizabeth II signified her intention to confer the honour of Knight Bachelor
Knight Bachelor
on him for his "services to entrepreneurship".[115][116] He was knighted by Charles, Prince of Wales
Charles, Prince of Wales
on 30 March 2000 at an investiture in Buckingham Palace.[117] Also in 2000, Branson received the Tony Jannus Award for his accomplishments in commercial air transportation. Branson appears at No. 85 on the 2002 list of 100 Greatest Britons
100 Greatest Britons
on the BBC
BBC
and voted for by the public. Branson was also ranked in 2007's Time magazine "Top 100 Most Influential People in the World". On 7 December 2007, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
Ban Ki-Moon
presented Branson with the United Nations Correspondents Association Citizen of the World Award for his support for environmental and humanitarian causes.[118] In 2009, Branson was voted the UK's "Celebrity Dream Boss" in an opinion poll by Cancer Research UK.[119] On 24 January 2011, Branson was awarded the German Media Prize (organised by "Media Control Charts"), previously handed to former US president Bill Clinton
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".[120] 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.[121] On 2 June 2013, Branson received an honorary degree of Doctor Honoris Causa from Kaunas Technology University
Kaunas Technology University
in Kaunas, Lithuania.[122] On 15 May 2014, Branson received the 2014 Business for Peace Award, awarded annually by the Business for Peace Foundation in Oslo, Norway.[123] On 21 September 2014, Branson was recognized by The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times
as the most admired business person over the last five decades.[124] On 9 October 2014, Branson was named as the No. 1 LGBT ally by the OUTstanding organisation.[125] On 29 October 2015, Branson was listed by UK-based company Richtopia at number 1 in the list of 100 Most Influential British Entrepreneurs.[126][127] In October 2015, Branson received the International Crisis Group Chairman's Award at the United Nations Development Programme's In Pursuit of Peace Awards Dinner.[128] Controversies[edit] Tax evasion[edit] In 1971, Branson was convicted and briefly jailed for tax evasion, having fraudulently obtained export documents for records to be sold on the domestic market in order to avoid paying Value Added Tax.[129][130] Customs officials caught onto the scheme and executed a sting operation, marking records bought for the international market with invisible ink and subsequently buying them on the domestic market. Branson was advised of the sting by an anonymous tip-off and attempted to dispose of the evidence, but this was unsuccessful.[131][132] Branson's business empire is owned by a complicated series of offshore trusts and companies. The Sunday Times
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.[133][dead link] Branson has been criticised for his business strategy, and has been accused of being a carpetbagger.[134][135][136][137] Branson responded that he is living on Necker for health rather than tax reasons.[138] In 2013, Branson described himself as a "tax exile", having saved millions in tax by surrendering his British citizenship.[139] This was echoed by Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Labour's John McDonnell, in 2016, amid calls for his knighthood to be revoked.[140] Assault allegation[edit] On 27 November 2017 Richard Branson
Richard Branson
was accused of sexual assault to a singer Antonia Jenae. A spokesperson to Branson confirmed to The Sun that members of Joss Stone
Joss Stone
band were invited for a party in 2010, but he vehemently denied the claims stating he had "no recollection" of the events, and that the claims were "patently false".[141] Personal life[edit]

Branson kite surfing at Necker Island

Branson married Kristen Tomassi in 1972 and divorced her in 1979. He has a daughter Holly and a son Sam with his second wife, Joan Templeman. He met her in 1976. He stated in an interview with Piers Morgan that he and Joan also had a daughter named Clare Sarah, who died when she was four days old in 1979.[142][143] In 1998, Branson released his autobiography, titled Losing My Virginity, an international best-seller.[144] Branson was deeply saddened by the disappearance of fellow adventurer Steve Fossett
Steve Fossett
in September 2007; the following month he wrote an article for Time magazine, titled "My Friend, Steve Fossett".[145] In 2013 Branson became President of the Old Stoic Society of Stowe School.[146] In March 2015 Branson said that almost all drug use should be decriminalised in the UK, following the example of Portugal.[147] Branson was ordained as a minister by the Universal Life Church Monastery.[148] Branson is also an experienced kitesurfer, holding some world records in the sport.[149][150] In August 2016 Branson was injured while riding his bicycle in the British Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands
and suffered torn ligaments and a cracked cheek as a result. He was taken to hospital in Miami for X-rays and scans.[151] In 2017, Branson's Necker Island home was left uninhabitable after Hurricane Irma
Hurricane Irma
hit.[152] It is the second time the Necker Island home has been severely damaged after the building caught fire when it was struck by lightning caused by Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Irene
in 2011.[153] Influences[edit] Branson has stated in a number of interviews that he has been much influenced by non-fiction books. He most commonly mentions 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
The Revenge of Gaia
by James Lovelock
James Lovelock
amongst his favourites. According to Branson's book, Screw It, Let's Do It: Lessons in Life, he is also a fan of Jung Chang's Wild Swans
Wild Swans
and Antony Beevor's Stalingrad.[154][155] In fiction, Branson has long admired the character Peter Pan,[156] and in 2006 he founded Virgin Comics LLC, stating that Virgin Comics
Virgin Comics
will give "a whole generation of young, creative thinkers a voice".[157][158] Bibliography[edit]

Branson, Richard (1998). Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way. Virgin Books. ISBN 978-0-7535-1955-4.  Branson, Richard (2006). Screw It, Let's Do It. Virgin Books. ISBN 978-0-7535-1149-7.  Branson, Richard (2008). Business Stripped Bare. Virgin Books. ISBN 978-0-7535-1503-7.  Branson, Richard (2010). Reach for the Skies: Ballooning, Birdmen and Blasting Into Space. Virgin Books. ISBN 978-1-905264-91-9.  Branson, Richard (2011). Screw Business as Usual. Portfolio/Penguin. ISBN 978-1-59184-434-1.  Branson, Richard (2013). Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won't Teach You at Business School. Virgin Books. ISBN 978-0-75351-992-9.  Branson, Richard (2014). The Virgin Way: How to Listen, Learn, Laugh and Lead. Virgin Books. ISBN 978-1-90526-490-2.  Branson, Richard (2017). Finding My Virginity. Ebury Publishing. ISBN 978-0-75355-108-0. 

Also published as: The Virgin Way: If It's Not Fun, It's Not Worth Doing[159] and The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership[160]

References[edit]

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Sir
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Richard Branson
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Richard Branson
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Richard Branson
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Richard Branson
denies being a tax exile". www.theguardian.com. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 16 October 2013.  ^ https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/businessclub/10376341/Ive-been-a-tax-exile-for-seven-years-says-Branson.html ^ https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/704616/sir-richard-branson-jeremy-corbyn-virgin-knighthood-tax-exile-john-mcdonnell ^ " Sir
Sir
Richard Branson
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Air launch
to orbit

Orbital launch vehicle

Smallsats

Mothership
Mothership
aircraft

v t e

The Spaceship Company

Virgin Galactic

Related companies

Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic
(Virgin Group) Scaled Composites
Scaled Composites
(Northrop Grumman) Mojave Aerospace Ventures
Mojave Aerospace Ventures
(Vulcan Aerospace)

Notable people

Richard Branson Burt Rutan
Burt Rutan
(founders) Doug Shane
Doug Shane
(president) Michael Alsbury† Brian Binnie Keith Colmer Michael Masucci Clint Nichols Peter Siebold Mark Stucky

Background

Ansari X Prize Scaled Composites
Scaled Composites
Tier One

SpaceShipOne White Knight One

Programs / Ships

Tier 1b

SpaceShipTwo

VSS Enterprise†

2014 crash

VSS Unity

White Knight Two

VMS Eve VMS Spirit of Steve Fossett

RocketMotorTwo

Tier 2

SpaceShipThree

Related topics

Mojave Spaceport Kármán line Space tourism

Companies

Sub-orbital spaceflight

Spaceplane

v t e

Shark Tank

Episodes

Sharks

Current

Robert Herjavec Kevin O'Leary Barbara Corcoran Daymond John Mark Cuban
Mark Cuban
(season 3–present) Lori Greiner
Lori Greiner
(season 4–present)

Former

Kevin Harrington (season 1–2)

Guest

Mark Cuban
Mark Cuban
(season 2) Jeff Foxworthy
Jeff Foxworthy
(season 2) Lori Greiner
Lori Greiner
(season 3) Steve Tisch (season 5) John Paul DeJoria
John Paul DeJoria
(season 5) Nick Woodman
Nick Woodman
(season 6) Ashton Kutcher
Ashton Kutcher
(season 7) Troy Carter (season 7) Chris Sacca
Chris Sacca
(season 7–9) Sara Blakely
Sara Blakely
(season 9) Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez
(season 9) Richard Branson
Richard Branson
(season 9) Rohan Oza (season 9) Bethenny Frankel
Bethenny Frankel
(season 9)

Notable investments

Breathometer Cycloramic Drop Stop LuminAID Nardo's Natural Notehall Origaudio Plated Roominate Scrub Daddy Shark Wheel Simple Sugars Spikeball Squatty Potty Talbott Teas Tipsy Elves UniKey Villy Custom

Beyond the Tank Dragons' Den Shark Tank
Shark Tank
(Australian TV series)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 84074806 LCCN: n87888343 ISNI: 0000 0001 1161 6407 GND: 11886971X SUDOC: 035766476 BNF: cb13335135v (data) MusicBrainz: 6ea65dde-175f-4e33-999c-aa38cda7bf6a NDL: 00620419 ICCU: ITICCUPUVV219754 BNE: XX4699

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