Name : Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson
Born : 18 July 1950
Age : 61
Birth Place: Blackheath, London, England, United Kingdom
Occupation: Chairman of Virgin Group
Years active: 1966 –present
Net worth: US$4.2 billion (2011)
About Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson: Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (born 18 July 1950) is an English business magnate, best known for his Virgin Group of more than 400 companies.
His first successful business venture was a magazine called Student at age 16.In 1970, he set up an audio record mail-order business. In 1972, he opened a chain of record stores, Virgin Records, later known as Virgin Megastores. Branson's Virgin brand grew rapidly during the 1980s, as he set up Virgin Atlantic Airways and expanded the Virgin Records music label.
Branson is the 4th richest citizen of the United Kingdom and 254th richest person in the world, according to the Forbes 2011 list of billionaires, with an estimated net worth of US$4.2 billion.
Early life : Branson was born in Blackheath, London, the son and eldest child of barrister Edward James Branson (10 March 1918 – 19 March 2011) and Eve Huntley Branson (née Flindt). His grandfather, the Right Honourable Sir George Arthur Harwin Branson, was a judge of the High Court of Justice and a Privy Councillor. Branson was educated at Scaitcliffe School (nowBishopsgate School) until the age of thirteen. He then attended Stowe School until the age of sixteen. Branson has dyslexia and had poor academic performance as a student, but later discovered his ability to connect with others
Career : Branson started his record business from the crypt of a church where he ran The Student. Branson advertised popular records in The Student Magazine and it was an over night success. Trading under the name "Virgin", he sold records for considerably less than the "High Street" outlets, especially the chain W. H. Smith. The name "Virgin" was suggested by one of Branson's early employees because they were all new at business. At the time, many products were sold under restrictive marketing agreements that limited discounting, despite efforts in the 1950s and 1960s to limit so-called resale price maintenance. In effect, Branson began the series of changes that led to large-scale discounting of recorded music.
Branson eventually started a record shop in Oxford Street in London. In 1971, Branson was questioned in connection with the selling of records in Virgin stores that had been declared export stock. The matter was never brought before a court and Branson agreed to repay any unpaid tax and a fine. Branson's mother Eve re-mortgaged the family home to help pay the settlement.
Earning enough money from his record store, Branson in 1972 launched the record label Virgin Records with Nik Powell and bought a country estate, in which he installed a recording studio. He leased out studio time to fledgling artists, including multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield, whose debut album Tubular Bells (1973) was Virgin Records' first release and a chart-topping best-seller.
Virgin signed such controversial bands as the Sex Pistols, which other companies were reluctant to sign. It also won praise for exposing the public to such obscure avant-garde music as Faust and Can. Virgin Records also introduced Culture Club to the music world. In the early 1980s, Virgin purchased the gay nightclub Heaven. In 1991, in a consortium with David Frost, Richard Branson had made the unsuccessful bid for three ITV franchisees under the CPV-TV name. 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 baaing along to a drum machine produced track and even made the charts at number 42 in 1982.
In 1992, to keep his airline company afloat, Branson sold the Virgin label to EMI for £500 million.Branson says that he wept when the sale was completed since the record business had been the birth of the Virgin Empire. He later formed V2 Records to re-enter the music business.
World record attempts: Richard Branson made several world record-breaking attempts after 1985, when in the spirit of theBlue 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. With its 2,300,000 cubic feet (65,000 m3), this was the largest hot-air balloon, and the first to cross the Atlantic.
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.
In the late 1990s, Branson and musician Peter Gabriel discussed with Nelson Mandela their idea of a small, dedicated group of leaders, working objectively and without any vested personal interest to solve difficult global conflicts.
On 18 July 2007, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nelson Mandela announced the formation of a new group, The Elders, in a speech he delivered on the occasion of his 89th birthday. The founding members of this group are Desmond Tutu, Graça Machel, Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt,Gro Harlem Brundtland, Jimmy Carter, Li Zhaoxing, Mary Robinson, and Muhammad Yunus. The Elders is independently funded by a group of "Founders", including Branson and Gabriel.
In the 1980s, he was briefly given the post of "litter Tsar" by Margaret Thatcher—charged with "keeping Britain tidy". He was again seen as close to the government when the Labour Party came to power in 1997. In 2005 he declared that there were only negligible differences between the two main parties on economic matters. He has frequently been mentioned as a candidate for Mayor of London, and polls have suggested he would be a viable candidate, though he has yet to express interest
Business Practices : 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 £3.065 billion; if he were to retire to his Caribbean island and liquidate all of this he would pay relatively little in tax.
Honours and awards : In 1993, Branson was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Technology from Loughborough University.
In the New Years Honours list dated 30 December 1999, HM The Queen signified her intention to confer the honour of Knight Bachelor on him for his "services to entrepreneurship".He was knighted by HRH The Prince of Wales on 30 March 2000 at an investiture in Buckingham Palace.
Also in 2000, Branson received the 'Tony Jannus Award' for his accomplishments in commercial air transportation.
Branson is the patron of several charities, including the International Rescue Corps and Prisoners Abroad, a registered charity which supports Britons who are detained outside of the UK.
Branson appears at No. 85 on the 2002 list of "100 Greatest Britons" (sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public). Sir Richard also ranks No. 86 on Channel 4's 2003 list of "100 Worst Britons". Sir Richard was also ranked in 2007's Time Magazine "Top 100 Most Influential People in the World". In 2009, Branson was voted the UK's "Celebrity Dream Boss" in an opinion poll by Cancer Research UK.
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.
On 24 January 2011, Branson was awarded the German Media Prize (organised by "Media Control Charts" ), previously handed to former U.S. 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".
Personal life : Branson is the eldest of four siblings. He has two sisters, Andrea and Vanessa Branson. His brother, Tom, followed in their father's footsteps and became a barrister. Branson's poor academic records contrasted with excellent performance in sports, especially swimming.
With his wife Joan Templeman he has a daughter Holly (b. 1981) and son Sam (b. 1985). He stated in an interview with Piers Morgan that he and wife Joan had a daughter named Clare Sarah who died when she was just four days old in 1979.The couple wed—at their daughter Holly's suggestion when she was eight years old—in 1989 at Necker Island, a 74-acre (30 ha) island in the British Virgin Islands that Branson owns.He also owns land on the Caribbean Islands of Antigua and Barbuda. Holly Branson is now a doctor and is a keen supporter of the football team Oxford United.
In 1998, Branson released his autobiography, titled Losing My Virginity, an international bestseller.
Branson was deeply saddened by the disappearance of fellow adventurer Steve Fossett in September 2007; and, the following month, he wrote an article for Time magazine, titled "My Friend, Steve Fossett".