Richard Branson

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Richard Branson (2015)
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Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (born July 18, 1950 in Blackheath , London , England ) is a British entrepreneur. He was or is active with his conglomerate Virgin Group in the music industry , aviation or as a railway operator . He lives in London, on his country estate in Oxfordshire and on his small private island Necker Island in the Caribbean . Branson is married with two children.

Childhood and youth

Branson was born in Blackheath , London, the eldest of three children to Eve Branson, a former ballet dancer , and Edward James Branson, a lawyer . Branson has two younger sisters. His grandfather, Sir George Arthur Branson, was a judge on the High Court of Justice . Branson got very bad grades during his school days due to dyslexia . According to his own testimony, his school principal told him on his last day of school that he would either end up in prison or become a millionaire .

Entrepreneurial activity

After high school , Branson and some colleagues from 1967 published a school newspaper called Student , which, however, was an economic failure despite the support of well-known authors such as John le Carré or Jean-Paul Sartre . He left school without a degree.

In 1970 he founded his first company, called Virgin , which shipped records , but later also ran record stores.

In 1971 he came into conflict with the law when he found out by accident that if you exported records to Belgium , you could avoid the tax and reintroduce them immediately. This earned him one night in jail and a large fine.

In 1972 Manor Studios was founded in Oxfordshire . Branson signed the until then relatively unknown bassist of the " Kevin Ayers Group ", Mike Oldfield . His first record, Tubular Bells , was released in 1973 and sold over 5 million times. This financial success was the cornerstone for all further business activities of Branson. He founded and participated in other companies, all of which operated under the Virgin brand, such as Virgin Atlantic Airlines from 1984 or the Virgin Rail Group from 1997.

The Virgin Group's total sales in 2002 were £ 4 billion . In February 2007, he announced that Virgin and the British company Game Domain International (GDI) would launch a 3-D game world called A World Of My Own (AWOMO), which would revolutionize the PC games market. In early February 2008, Branson made an offer for the ailing British bank Northern Rock . In December 2009 he presented the SpaceShipTwo , a space plane for short private excursions into space . From the 2010s onwards, he was involved in the development of the Boom Overture supersonic aircraft and announced the prospect of developing a Mach 3 business jet in 2020 .

At the end of 2009, Branson took part in the British racing team Manor Grand Prix , which had received a starting place for the 2010 Formula 1 season .

Branson's personal net worth was estimated at around $ 4 billion in October 2019 .

Political activity

In addition to the commercial ones , Richard Branson also founded charitable companies such as the Virgin Healthcare Foundation , which is particularly committed to AIDS prophylaxis and the restriction of advertising and sponsorship of tobacco companies in sports . He is also committed to consistent climate protection .

For his achievements as an entrepreneur ( "services to entrepreneurship") Branson was in December 1999 for Knight Bachelor and appointed by Queen Elizabeth II. To beat Knight . Since then he has had the suffix "Sir".

On September 21, 2006, Branson announced that he would invest around three billion US dollars in renewable energies . In 2010, his non-profit organization Carbon War Room presented the Shippingefficiency database , which is supposed to help prevent greenhouse gases . By September 2014, Branson had delivered less than a tenth of its 2006 promise, with investments well under $ 300 million.

In the spring of 2011, Branson presented the Virgin Oceanic submersible , with the help of which one can dive to the deepest parts of the earth's oceans - such as the Mariana Trench . He himself wants to visit the Puerto Rico Trench , the deepest place in the Atlantic .

For his support of the President of Costa Rica , Laura Chinchilla , in improving the protection of sharks in Central America , he was awarded SharkGUARDIAN of the Year in 2013 by the Sharkproject organization .

With regard to the discussions about a possible withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (" Brexit "), Branson has repeatedly spoken out emphatically in favor of remaining in the EU .

In 2016, Branson commented on the drug problem and said the "war on drugs" had "failed terribly" and "a waste of money, resources and life". He argued that the governments should instead “control the drug markets sensibly”, which - following the example of Portugal - caused a sharp decline in the number of drug deaths and new HIV infections. There is also no evidence that legalization and regulation have led to more drug use.

On February 22, 2019, Branson announced a concert called Venezuela Aid Live in Cúcuta - a Colombian border town to Venezuela - via YouTube clip . With this, he wants to collect 100 million USD in donations within 60 days. According to Branson's own account, the self-proclaimed Venezuelan interim president Juan Guaidó asked him for this support for the needy population in Venezuela.


In his search for the "ultimate adventure", Branson attempted several world record attempts in various disciplines:

  • 1986: Fastest Atlantic crossing by ship with the "Virgin Atlantic Challenger II"
  • 1987: First hot air balloon crossing of the Atlantic with the "Virgin Atlantic Flyer"
  • 1991: First hot air balloon crossing of the Pacific with the "Virgin Pacific Flyer"
  • 1995–1998: Several attempts to circle the earth by balloon . In 1998 he finally managed a record flight from Morocco eastwards to Hawaii , but he had to cancel the flight there due to bad weather. In the race around the world in 1999 he finally lost to Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones , but helped them in a very sporty manner when they had problems with overflight permits for Iran , Iraq and China ; Branson had to stop his attempt at the start in the Moroccan desert .
  • 2004: Fastest crossing of the English Channel with an amphibious vehicle .
  • 2012: Elder to cross the English Channel by kite surfing (his son was the fastest kite surfer).

He also started the 2004 television reality show The Rebel Billionaire , which had a similar concept to The Apprentice by Donald Trump . The applicants on his show competed for a job in the "Virgin Empire".

In the series Friends he played a souvenir dealer in London (4th season, 23rd episode). He played himself on an episode of Baywatch . In 2004 he had a cameo appearance in the film Around the World in 80 Days ( a hot air balloon is stolen from him in Paris ), and in 2006 as a co-sponsor in the James Bond film Casino Royale as a passenger at the passenger control. In 2010 he played himself in the television series Entourage .

In July 2011, Richard Branson competed in the London Triathlon , sponsored by Virgin Active, as a swimming relay competitor.

On August 22, 2011, when Hurricane Irene raged, Branson's "Great House" on Necker Island was struck by lightning; it burned to the ground . Those present were not harmed, Branson's mother was carried out on her back by actress Kate Winslet . His daughter's wedding to Freddie Andrewes, planned for December, took place on Necker Island as planned .

As a result of a losing bet , Branson served drinks on Saturday May 11, 2013 during the AirAsia flight from Perth to Kuala Lumpur . To do this, he had his legs shaved, put on a red stewardess uniform and received an eye-catching make-up . The proceeds from the flight were donated to the Australian Starlight Foundation , which supports sick children.

Branson was nominated as a reserve driver for the New York City ePrix 2017 by the DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team , which is part of the Virgin Group. However, this was perceived in the media as a PR gag as Branson does not have the racing license required to start .


On the 1990 album Amarok by the musician Mike Oldfield, there is a morphed “farewell” to the owner of his previous record company: “ Fuck off rb”. With RB Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Records , is meant.

Branson has a guest appearance in the Simpsons episode A Heart and a Crown (OT: The Princess Guide ; Season 26 ).

He also made a guest appearance on Baywatch Season 5 Episode 21 Miss Molly


Branson also published several books:

  • Business is like rock 'n' roll. The Virgin Founder's Autobiography . (Original Losing my Virginity. ) Translated from the English by Patricia Künzel. Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt / Main 1999, ISBN 3-593-36169-8
  • Sir Richard Branson, the Autobiography. As told to Karen Holmes. Pearson Education, Harlow 2002, ISBN 0-582-51224-7
  • Screw it, let's do it. Lessons in life. Virgin, London 2006, ISBN 0-7535-1099-5
    • Doesn't work, doesn't exist. Börsenmedien, Kulmbach 2009, ISBN 978-3-938350-89-8 (Translation of Screw it, let's do it by Christina Jacobs)
  • Business Stripped Bare . Virgin Books, London 2008, ISBN 978-0-7535-1502-0
  • Screw Business as Usual . Random House UK, London 2011, ISBN 978-0-7535-3979-8
  • Like a virgin . books4success, 2013, ISBN 3864700884

Awards (selection)


Web links

Commons : Richard Branson  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Blackheath Nursing Home: Services: Contact
  2. Edward Branson. Retrieved August 14, 2016 .
  3. ^ "Births,"  The Times , July 12, 1950, pg. 1
  4. Nina Myskow (March 13, 2013). "Like mother, like son". Saga magazine.
  5. ^ "Forthcoming Marriages,"  The Times , June 22, 1949, 7.
  6. Richard Branson. "At school I was dyslexic and a dunce."  The Times , London, Sept. 11, 1998, p. 19
  7. Tussle about Northern Rock: Branson offers with - Article on N-TV , February 4, 2008
  8. Shuttle presented for short excursions into space ( Memento from October 10, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  9. “Mach 3”: Richard Branson is also planning a successor for Concorde , Handelszeitung, August 4, 2020
  10. # 286 Richard Branson. In: July 3, 2016, accessed July 3, 2016 .
  11. Richard Branson leads call to free global economy from carbon emissions. The Guardian, February 5, 2015
  12. Branson makes $ 3bn climate pledge - article on BBC News , September 21, 2006
  13. Naomi Klein: Climate crimes: Naomi Klein on greenwashing big business , in: The Guardian , September 13, 2014.
  14. Virgin Oceanic website ( Memento August 7, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), accessed April 12, 2011 (English)
  15. Virgin Oceanic: Richard Branson dives - Article at , April 6, 2011
  16. Branson 'fearful' over United Kingdom and Gibraltar European Union membership referendum impact. BBC News, June 20, 2016, accessed June 20, 2016 .
  17. We Must End the War On Drugs from Zeit Online, accessed July 10, 2016
  18. Venezuela Aid Live , (accessed February 19, 2019)
  19. Richard Branson Leads The Way As Celebs Tackle London Triathlon ( Memento from November 21, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  20. ^ Fire on Necker Island. In: Island Life: the Necker Island blog of August 23, 2011, English with ill., Accessed on September 3, 2011 ( archived original article without images )
  21. Stewardess for one day , accessed May 13, 2013
  22. Tobias Bluhm: New York: Lynn confirmed, Branson as replacement!, June 28, 2017, accessed on June 29, 2017 .
  23. Norman Fischer: DS Virgin announces Richard Branson as reserve driver!, June 28, 2017, accessed June 29, 2017 .
  24. A heart and a crown. Simpsonspedia, October 21, 2017, accessed December 11, 2019 .
  25. Sir Richard Branson | Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved October 17, 2018 (American English).