Sir Richard Branson is the founder and president of Virgin Group. Virgin is one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands and has expanded into aviation, hospitality and leisure, telecommunications, financial services, health and wellness, and clean energy through more than 200 companies worldwide, employing approximately 50,000 people in over 30 countries. One of Richard Branson’s newest ventures, Virgin America, was recognized as “Best Domestic Airline” by Travel + Leisure’s “2007 World’s Best” Awards.
In December 1999, Richard Branson was awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Millennium New Year’s honours list for “services to entrepreneurship.”
Sir Richard Branson is the author of Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way, Screw It, Let’s Do It: Lessons in Life and Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur.
Richard Branson keeps his adrenaline level high by setting personal and world record challenges. His record-breaking endeavors include crossing both the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean in epic hot air balloon voyages and participating in other around-the-world-attempts. Recently, Sir Richard, along with his two children Holly and Sam, attempted to break the world’s record in transatlantic crossing with the Virgin Money Speedboat, a 99 ft super-maxi yacht.
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In 1970 Richard Branson founded Virgin as a mail order record retailer, and shortly afterwards opened a record shop in Oxford Street, London. In 1972 he built a recording studio in Oxfordshire where the first Virgin artist, Mike Oldfield, recorded Tubular Bells.
In 1977 Richard Branson signed the Sex Pistols and went on to sign many household names from Culture Club to the Rolling Stones, helping to make Virgin Music one of the top six record companies in the world.
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In the summer of 2004, Richard Branson launched Virgin Unite as a vehicle to pull together all the resources of the Virgin Group internationally and, most importantly, Virgin’s best asset – its people – to tackle some of the tougher challenges facing the world today. Sir Richard and on-the-ground partners participate in a number of efforts, including the creation of sustainable health clinics in Africa and the fostering of new entrepreneurs through the Branson School of Entrepreneurship in South Africa.
In 2007, Richard Branson joined Peter Gabriel, Nelson Mandela, Graça Machel, and Desmond Tutu to form The Elders, a group of independent leaders that will seek sustainable solutions to global humanitarian issues. In December 2007, Sir Richard Branson was recognized by UNCA as “Citizen of the Year.”