|Sir Richard Branson
Branson at the UK Drugs Policy: Taking the Lead Internationally discussion at Chatham House in March 2015
|Born||Richard Charles Nicholas Branson
18 July 1950 
Blackheath, London, England
|Residence||Necker Island, British Virgin Islands|
|Other names||Old Beardie|
|Occupation||Founder of Virgin Group|
|Net worth||US$5.2 billion (January 2016)|
|Spouse(s)||Kristen Tomassi (m. 1972; div. 1979)
Joan Templeman (m. 1989)
|Parent(s)||Edward James Branson
|Relatives||Grandfather, the Right Honourable Sir George Arthur Harwin Branson, was a judge of the High Court of Justice and a Privy Councillor.|
Branson expressed his desire to become an entrepreneur at a young age. At the age of sixteen his first business venture was a magazine called Student. 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 airline and expanded the Virgin Records music label.
In March 2000, Branson was knighted at Buckingham Palace for "services to entrepreneurship". 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. In 2002 he was named in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. In January 2016, Forbes listed Branson's estimated net worth at $5.2 billion.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 World record attempts
- 4 Television, film and print
- 5 Humanitarian initiatives
- 6 Politics
- 7 Honours and awards
- 8 Personal life
- 9 Informal dress code
- 10 Influences
- 11 Bibliography
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Branson was born in Blackheath, London, the eldest of three children of Eve Branson (née Evette Huntley Flindt; born 1924), a former ballet dancer and air hostess, and Edward James Branson (1918–2011), a barrister. Branson has two younger sisters. 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, a prep school in Berkshire, before briefly attending Cliff View House School in Sussex. His third great-grandfather, John Edward Branson, left England for India in 1793. His 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. Branson attended Stowe School, an independent school in Buckinghamshire until the age of sixteen. 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. Branson's parents were supportive of his endeavours from an early age. Branson's mother was an entrepreneur. One of her most successful ventures was building and selling wooden tissue boxes and wastepaper bins.
Branson started his record business from a church where he ran Student magazine. Branson interviewed several prominent personalities of the late 1960s for the magazine including Mick Jagger and R. D. Laing. 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. 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.
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 because 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 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 became a chart-topping best-seller.
Virgin signed such controversial bands as the Sex Pistols, which other companies were reluctant to sign. Virgin Records would go on to sign other artists including the Rolling Stones, Peter Gabriel, UB40, Steve Winwood and Paula Abdul and allow it to become the world's largest independent record label. 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 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.
In 1992, to keep his airline company afloat, Branson sold the Virgin label to EMI for £500 million. Branson said that he wept when the sale was completed because the record business had been the very start of the Virgin empire. In 1996 he created V2 Records to re-enter the music business, owning 5% himself.
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 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.
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.
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 £3 million. Branson distributed his compensation (the so-called "BA bonus") among his staff.
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. 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 rocket plane on its first public flight then planned for 2014. As part of his promotion of the firm, Branson has added a variation of the Virgin Galactic livery to his personal business jet, the Dassault Falcon 900EX "Galactic Girl" (G-GALX).
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.
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. 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.
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 both UK and US 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.
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.
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 changing the company's name from Northern Rock to Virgin Money. The Daily Mail ran a campaign against his bid and 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.
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.
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. Plans to take over an NHS Practice in Swindon were abandoned in late September 2008.
In February 2009, Branson's Virgin organisation was 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, with discussions also under way about introducing a less "dirty" fuel in the medium term. 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, with the team being renamed 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.
In 2010, Branson became patron of the UK's Gordon Bennett 2010 gas balloon race, which has 16 hydrogen balloons flying across Europe. 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.
In April 2012, 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. By March 2015 Virgin Care was in charge of over 230 services nationwide.
In July 2012, Branson announced plans to build an orbital space launch system, designated LauncherOne. 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.
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 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.
In September 2014, Branson announced his investment in drone company 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 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."
In November 2015, Branson announced the addition of Moskito Island to the Virgin Limited Edition portfolio. This resort, The Branson Estate on Moskito Island, offers 11 bedrooms for 22 guests.
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.[dead link] Branson has been criticised for his business strategy, and has been accused of being a carpetbagger. Branson responded that he is living on Necker for health rather than tax reasons.
Branson has been criticised by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation organisation for profiting from selling trips to SeaWorld and similar themed parks that hold dolphins, whales and other sea life in captivity for entertainment purposes.
World record attempts
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. 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, Vladimir Dzhanibekov, Larry Newman, 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. 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. 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.
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. 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 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.
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). 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".
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, 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 film Casino Royale (2006). 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. He makes a number of brief and disjointed appearances in the documentary Derek and Clive Get the Horn (1979) which follows the exploits of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore recording their final 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 Star Trek spaceships, 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 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. 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. Together they re-enacted a famous scene 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.
At the 2012 Pride of Britain Awards 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 athletes.
In the late 1990s, Branson and musician Peter Gabriel discussed with Nelson Mandela their idea of a small group of leaders working to solve difficult global conflicts. On 18 July 2007, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Mandela announced the formation of a new group, The Elders. 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.
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.
Through the Carbon War Room, founded in 2009, the entrepreneur is seeking 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 says in his interview with Vision. Through Carbon War Room initiative he is focusing its efforts on finding sustainable alternatives for three industry sectors: shipping, energy efficiency and aviation and renewable jet fuels.
He also launched Virgin Startup, an official delivery partner for the UK's Start Up Loans programme. Through this new organisation, he will 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.
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. 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 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.
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, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, and Larry Page of Google were in attendance.
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 region. 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.
Branson is a signatory of Global Zero campaign, a non-profit international initiative for the elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide. Since its launch in Paris in December 2008, 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 and Participant Media.
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. 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."
In December 2013, Branson urged companies to boycott 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."
In 2014, Branson joined forces with 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.
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." The U.S. is one of the few countries that practice 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 newspaper which had advocated the execution. Branson stated the evidence against Glossip is 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."
Climate change pledge
In 2006, Branson made a high-profile pledge to invest $3 billion toward addressing global warming over the course of the following decade. However, author and activist Naomi Klein has criticised Branson for contributing "well under $300 million" as of 2014, far below the originally stated goal. Additionally, Klein says Virgin airlines' greenhouse gas emissions increased considerably in the years following his pledge.
In the 1980s, Branson was briefly given the post of "litter Tsar" by Margaret Thatcher—charged with "keeping Britain tidy". In 2005 he declared that there were only negligible differences between the two main parties on economic matters. He was suggested as a candidate for Mayor of London before the first 2000 election, with polls indicating he would be a viable candidate, but he did not express interest.
Branson has supported continuing British membership of the European Union and was opposed to the 2016 referendum. 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.
Honours and awards
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". He was knighted by Charles, Prince of Wales on 30 March 2000 at an investiture in Buckingham Palace. 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 on 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". 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.
In 2009, Branson was voted the UK's "Celebrity Dream Boss" in an opinion poll by Cancer Research UK. 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". 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.
On 2 June 2013, Branson received an honorary degree of Doctor Honoris Causa from Kaunas Technology University in Kaunas, Lithuania. On 15 May 2014, Branson received the 2014 Business for Peace Award, awarded annually by the Business for Peace Foundation in Oslo, Norway.
On 21 September 2014, Branson was recognized by The Sunday Times as the most admired business person over the last five decades. On 9 October 2014, Branson was named as the No. 1 LGBT ally by the OUTstanding organisation. On 29 October 2015, Branson was listed by UK-based company Richtopia at number 1 in the list of 100 Most Influential British Entrepreneurs. 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.
Branson married Kristen Tomassi in 1972 and divorced her in 1979. He remarried in 1989, at Necker Island, a 74-acre (30 ha) island owned by Branson in the British Virgin Islands. Branson owns a yacht that is named after his island - the Necker Belle. He had a daughter Holly and a son Sam with his second wife, Joan Templeman. 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 1989.
In 1998, Branson released his autobiography, titled Losing My Virginity, an international best-seller. 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".
In 2013 Branson became President of the Old Stoic Society of Stowe School. In March 2015 Branson said that almost all drug use should be decriminalised in the UK, following the example of Portugal.
Branson was ordained as a minister by the Universal Life Church Monastery. Branson is also an experienced kitesurfer, holding some world records in the sport. In August 2016 Branson was injured while riding his bicycle in the 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.
Informal dress code
Branson is known for his preference of casual clothing both at home and the workplace. On his dislike of ties, he says "I have been carrying out a lifelong campaign to say bye to the tie. I often carry a pair of scissors with me, ready to cut off the tie of any unsuspecting wearer. I even have a cushion on Necker Island made up of some of my victims! I remain convinced that ties only exist because managers, after spending years being forced to wear ties by their bosses, decide to force the next generation to do the same. They subtly encourage conformity. Most people in business dress the same and that contributes to them acting the same. Wearing a tie really can restrict new ideas and innovative thoughts – not to mention breath!"
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 by 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 and Antony Beevor's Stalingrad. In fiction, Branson has long admired the character Peter Pan, and in 2006 he founded Virgin Comics LLC, stating that Virgin Comics will give "a whole generation of young, creative thinkers a voice".
- Branson, Richard (1998). Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way. Virgin Books. ISBN 978-0-81296-714-2.
- 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, Sir Richard (Charles Nicholas). ukwhoswho.com. Who's Who. 2014 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (subscription required)
- "Richard Branson". Forbes. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
- List of companies related to Richard Branson - http://www.flixens.com/director/richard-charles-nicholas-branson
- "London's 1000 most influential people 2010: Tycoons & Retailers". Evening Standard. London. 26 November 2010. Archived from the original on 3 March 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- McKenzie, Sheena (25 April 2013) "Back to the future for Richard Branson's retro 80s speedboat". CNN Retrieved 30 April 2014.
- "Virgin tycoon is knighted". BBC. 3 January 2016.
- Barling, Julian. The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Behavior: Volume Two: Macro Approaches. SAGE. p. 383.
- "Thirty of the very best of British". The Telegraph. 13 November 2016.
- "100 great British heroes". BBC News. Retrieved 21 March 2014
- "Edward Branson". The Daily Telegraph. London. 8 May 2011.
- "Births", The Times, 12 July 1950, pg. 1
-  Finding Your Roots, February 2, 2016, PBS
- Nina Myskow (13 March 2013). "Like mother, like son". Saga magazine. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
- "Forthcoming Marriages", The Times, 22 June 1949, pg.7.
- Richard Branson. "At school I was dyslexic and a dunce.", The Times, London, 11 September 1998, pg. 19
- Shavinina, Larisa V (December 2006). "Micro-social factors in the development of entrepreneurial giftedness: the case of Richard Branson". High Ability Studies. 17 (2).
- Branson, Richard (2014). The Virgin Way: Everything I know about leadership. New York: Portfolio/Penguin.
- Richard Branson (4 August 2011). Losing My Virginity. Ebury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4464-8334-3.
- Mallory Russell (21 April 2012). "RICHARD BRANSON'S FAILS: 14 Virgin Companies That Went Bust". Business Insider.
- Richard Branson – Losing my Virginity
- Another example was the "Net Book Agreement", which limited the ability of book outlets, including discount book clubs, to offer deep discounts.
- "Richard Branson Biography". The Biography.com website. A&E Television Networks. Retrieved 16 September 2014.
- "Tubular Bells: The Mike Oldfield Story". BBC. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
- "Richard Branson The P.T. Barnum of British Business". 2008. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
- "Entrepreneur Guru Sir Richard Branson". EPN. 2 December 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
- "Profile: Richard Branson". The BBC. 27 September 2004. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
- Zeveloff, J (May 2011). "Richard Branson: How a Cancelled Flight Led To The World's Greatest Travel Empire". Retrieved October 18, 2016.
- Lee Glendinning (2 August 2007). "Row over dirty tricks led to decade of hostilities". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
- Klotz, Irene (11 November 2013). "Profile : Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Galactic". Space News. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
- Boyle, Alan. "First family of space: Richard Branson and kids will blaze new trail". NBC News. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- Grant Martin (4 August 2008). "Sir Richard Branson’s Private Jet". Gadling.
- "Windows Seat". Window Seat. Travel Daily. 29 January 2011.
- "ABC News: Breakfast With Al Gore Persuades Branson to Pledge Billions to Global Warming". ABC News. 22 September 2006. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
- "Come fly with me, come give it away". Retrieved 23 September 2006.
- "Virgin Group to Invest $3 Billion in Renewable Energy". Retrieved 12 October 2006.
- Fryer, Pat (23 January 2007). "Uma Thurman to promote Virgin Media". earthtimes.org. Retrieved 2 February 2007.
- Ruth Sunderland (5 August 2007). "',OFT defends 'snitch' policy',, Ruth Sunderland, The Guardian, Sunday 5 August 2007". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
- "Sir Richard Branson's paradise island". CNN GO. CNN International. 20 July 2011. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
- Thelwell, Emma (10 August 2007). "Virgin Group buys AirAsia X stake". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- Teather, David; Finch, Julia; Wearden, Graeme (13 October 2007). "Branson dangles offer for Northern Rock". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
- Phillip Inman (12 December 2007). "Northern Rock bidder threatens to pull out unless takeover date set, Business". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
- Barker, Alex; Timmins, Nick (10 January 2008). "Branson launches healthcare business". Financial Times. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
- "Virgin amends its profit plans". / Healthcare Republic. 11 July 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
- "Virgin drops GP practice plans". / Nursing in Practice. 22 September 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
- Branson's Virgin Group to sponsor Brawn GP, www.crash.net
- Virgin Become Brawn Gp's Title Sponsor, Bleacher Report
- "UpdateF1 >> Formula 1 News > FIA release 2010 entry list". Formula-1.updatesport.com. 12 June 2009. Retrieved 1 November 2009.
- "Virgin set for Manor GP move". Autosport. 3 July 2009. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
- Virgin's Sir Richard Branson turns stewardess after losing bet, BBC News
- "Welcome! , 54th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett 2010 Official Site". Gordonbennett2010.com. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
- Independent.ie Blog: (26 April 2011). "Steve Connor: Airspace closure due to ash cloud fears 'was right move'". Irish Independent. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- "NHS patients to be treated by Virgin Care in £500m deal". Telegraph.co.uk. 30 March 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
- "Overview – Virgin Care Ltd – NHS Choices". Retrieved 2 June 2015.
- Amos, Jonathan (11 July 2012). "Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic to launch small satellites". BBC News. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
- "Virgin Galactic relaunches its smallsat launch business". NewSpace Journal. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
- "West Coast Main Line deal scrapped after contract flaws discovered". BBC News. 3 October 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
- "Richard Branson Explains Why He Just Invested In Drones". Business Insider. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
- McLennan, Leah. "Inside Richard Branson's new $66,000 a night luxury island hideaway". News.com.au. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
- Bower, Tom (12 February 2017). "Virgin’s Robinson Crusoe is desperate to be adored". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 12 February 2017. (subscription required)
- Watson, Roland. "The Sunday Times: Britain". The Times. London. Retrieved 1 January 2007.
- 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 .
- 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 .
- Aditya Chakrabortty (10 June 2013). "The truth about Richard Branson's Virgin Rail profits". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- 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.
- Garside, Juliette (13 October 2013). "Richard Branson denies being a tax exile". www.theguardian.com. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
- "Richard Branson criticised for selling SeaWorld trips". www.telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
- "STOP SELLING TRIPS TO SEAWORLD SIR RICHARD BRANSON". www.uswhales.org. WDC. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
- "Hot-Air Balloonists Crossing Atlantic Break Record". Los Angeles Times. 3 July 1987.
- BBC News (14 June 2004). "Branson sets cross-Channel record". BBC News. Retrieved 13 June 2007.
- "Crossing the Channel in Car Boats! (HQ) – Top Gear – Series 10 – BBC". Retrieved 17 July 2014.
- "Richard Branson sets out to crack transatlantic sail record". meeja.com.au. 3 September 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2008.
- "Virgin Money Is Attempting to Break Transatlantic Passage Record". nyyc.org. 23 October 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
- "on". Saturdaymornings.co.uk. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
- "BA cuts Branson from Bond movie". BBC News. 21 April 2007. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
- "Colbert Report – Richard Branson". Comedy Central. 26 May 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- "Neha Dhupia swept off her feet by Richard Branson : Bollywood News". ApunKaChoice.Com. 4 March 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
- "Show Pages – MainSail". 31 May 2011.
- TheHyperbot1 (22 April 2011). "Branson, Winslet – Titanic Scene". YouTube. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- Emami, Gazelle (17 August 2011). "Morgan Spurlock 'A Day in the Life': Original Series Premieres on Hulu (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
- "Britain's biggest stars record iconic poem 'If' as tribute to Olympic heroes". Yahoo.com. 10 November 2014.
- Help Free The Children With Richard Branson, www.looktothestars.org
- "- International Children's Organization Expands Global Reach With Four New Board Members". Archived from the original on 29 October 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
- Mum's the Word. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
- "Sir Richard Branson interview – Vision Magazine". Retrieved 2 June 2015.
- "Virgin Unite". Virgin Unite. Retrieved 14 September 2010.[permanent dead link]
- Ruddick, Graham (25 July 2009). "Sir Richard Branson teaches African entrepreneurs Dragons' Den-style". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
- Richard Branson appearances booking agent, www.athletepromotions.com
- "Thinking Green While Sifting Through the Sand" The New York Times article published 22 March 2008
- "Farrow ends Darfur protest fast" (Press release). BBC. 9 May 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
- New York Times: "Branson Charity Focuses Aid Effort on Zimbabwe" By STEPHANIE STROM 20 September 2010
- "Group Offers Plan to Eliminate Nukes by 2030" (PDF). The New York Times. 29 June 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 May 2011.
- Corera, Gordon (10 December 2008). "Group seeks nuclear weapons ban". BBC.
- Clift, Eleanor. "A Good Start: 'Global Zero' reminds us that eradicating nuclear weapons should still be our ultimate goal". Newsweek.
- "Commissioners". Broadbandcommission.org. Archived from the original on 14 May 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- Smith, Phillip (27 January 2011). "Ex-World Leaders Form Global Drug Policy Commission". stopthedrugwar.org. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
- "Richard Branson condemns Uganda over anti-gay bill". Global Post. 26 December 2013.
- "Say No Campaign". African Wildlife Foundation. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- "The death penalty has no place in the world". Virgin.com. 30 September 2015.
- "Pope Francis and Sir Richard Branson appeal for Oklahoma inmate's life". The Guardian. 30 September 2015.
- "Branson makes $3bn climate pledge". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
- "Branson Pledges Billions to Fight Global Warming". www.nytimes.com. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
- "Richard Branson failed to deliver on $3bn climate change pledge". www.theguardian.com. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
- Klein, Naomi (2014). This Changes Everything.
- Byers, David (3 December 2005). "Britsaver-an accident waiting to happen.". The Times. London. Retrieved 27 August 2007.
- Heintke, Martina. "Sir Richard Branson". Archived from the original on 17 August 2007. Retrieved 27 August 2007.
- "Labour and Tories same – Branson". BBC News. 15 April 2005. Retrieved 23 September 2006.
- "Do Blacks Need a New London Mayor?". Archived from the original (– Scholar search) on 3 October 2006. Retrieved 27 August 2007.
- "Londoners snub politicians for mayor". BBC News. 28 April 1998. Retrieved 27 August 2007.
- "Who's in the running for mayor?". BBC News. 10 April 1998. Retrieved 27 August 2007.
- Stadlen, Matthew. "An EU vote? ridiculous". The Telegraph. 26 October 2013. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
- "Richard Branson: Virgin Group lost a third of value since Brexit vote - video". The Guardian. 28 June 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
- "Keynote Speaker Videos on Trend Hunter". keynotes.org. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
- Official announcement knighthood. The London Gazette. 30 December 1999.
- "New Years Honours". BBC News. 31 December 1999. Retrieved 23 September 2006.
- "Virgin tycoon is knighted". BBC News. 30 March 2000. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
- "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.
- "Branson beats Obama as celebrity dream boss" Archived 15 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine., Cancer Research UK website. Retrieved 12 August 2009.
- "La première assurance pour les voyageurs de l'espace voit le jour". Le Parisien (in French). 14 November 2011. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
- "The Recording Academy, Clive Davis Partner For Pre-GRAMMY Gala". The GRAMMYs. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
- Sir Richard Branson Awarded the Title of Honorary Doctor of KTU | KAUNAS UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY. En.ktu.lt. Retrieved on 18 July 2013.
- "Meet the 2014 Honourees | Business for Peace Foundation". Businessforpeace.no. 11 April 2014. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- "Richard Branson Tops 'Most Admired' Boss Poll". Sky News. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
- "LGBT ally Branson leads OUTstanding Allies rankings". Financial Times. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
- "Teenage apprentice aged 17 ranked with Lord Sugar and Sir Richard Branson as top entrepreneur". Mirror. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
- "British Entrepreneurs Top 100: From Lord Sugar to Victoria Beckham, These Are the Most Influential Entrepreneurs in the UK". Richtopia. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
- "Helen Clark: Speech presenting Sir Richard Branson with the International Crisis Group Chairman’s Award "In Pursuit of Peace" Awards Dinner". UNDP. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- Bussmann, Jane (23 April 2001). "Necker Island Richard Branson's exclusive retreat". Daily Mail. UK.
- "Richard Branson’s Necker Belle | Club Yacht". Club Yacht. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
- "Piers Morgan interviews Richard Branson, Richard talks about death of baby". Baby Chums. 22 February 2009. Archived from the original on 12 October 2009. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
- "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.
- Branson, Richard (10 October 2007). "',Time',". Time. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
- "Old Stoics have birthday Teese". standard.co.uk. 15 October 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
- Patrick Wintour. "UK should begin decriminalising drugs, say Richard Branson and Nick Clegg". the Guardian. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
- "If This Were Anyone Else, It Would All Be Very Strange". Retrieved 2 June 2015.
- "Sir Richard Branson 'thought he would die in bike crash". Retrieved 26 August 2016.
- "Why am I wearing ties? Something fishy must be going on". Virgin. 26 November 2016.
- "Richard Branson's reading influences". Infloox.com. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
- Branson, Richard (2011) . Screw It, Let's Do It: Lessons in Life. New York: Random House. p. 105. ISBN 9780753547458. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
- Branson, Richard (12 November 2012). "Richard Branson on How to Use Age to Your Advantage". Entrepreneur. Archived from the original on December 1, 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
- Gardner, Chris (5 January 2006). "Branson Taking a Passage to India". Variety. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
- "Branson Enters Comics with Virgin Comics, Virgin Animation". Newsarama. Archived from the original on 11 January 2006. Retrieved 7 February 2008.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Richard Branson.|