Richard Branson is the eccentric and outspoken chairman of Virgin Atlantic Airways and the founder of Virgin Records, which he recently sold for an unprecedented $1 billion. Famous for his daring entrepreneurial style, he oversees the Virgin Group, Ltd. an extensive conglomerate encompassing over 360 companies, including recording studios, a travel business, publishing entities, and retail industries worldwide. An experienced daredevil, Branson has raced powerboats across the ocean and has set distance records in hot air balloons. His unconventional style of living is only a part of his undeniable knack for beating impossible odds in business and in life.

Virgin started when Branson was the tender age of 20. In 1972, soon after he opened a Virgin record store on Oxford Street in London, the young entrepreneur opened a recording studio in Oxfordshire and Virgin Records was born. Mike Oldfield was the first artist to sign and his album, Tubular Bells, sold more than five million copies. During his ownership of Virgin Records, Branson turned it into a major success, signing such big names as Steve Winwood, Paula Abdul, Belinda Carlisle, Genesis, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Simple Minds, The Human League, Bryan Ferry, Culture Club, Janet Jackson, and The Rolling Stones. In 1992, he sold the Virgin Music Group record labels, music publishing, and recording studios to Thorn EMI in a $1 billion deal.

Branson eventually moved into other industries. He started Virgin Atlantic Airways, which has become the second largest English long haul international airline, and operates a fleet of aircraft to New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Orlando, Boston, San Francisco, Washington, Dallas, and Tokyo. He also created Virgin Mobile, USA, the fastest growing company in history to reach $1 billion in revenue.

Since 1985, he has been involved in a number of record-breaking land and air speed and distance attempts. In 1986, with his boat Virgin Atlantic Challenger II, he crossed the Atlantic Ocean in the fastest recorded time ever. One year later, Virgin Atlantic Flyer - a hot air balloon - was the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean and was the largest ever flown at 2.3 million cubic feet capacity, reaching speeds in excess of 130 mph. Again In 1991, Branson crossed the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Arctic Canada, breaking all existing records with speeds of up to 245 mph in a balloon measuring 2.6 million cubic feet.

Branson has guest starred on several television shows, including Friends, Baywatch and Only Fools and Horses. He also stars in The Rebel Billionaire.

In addition to his business activities, Branson backs a number of charities, including The Healthcare Foundation. He became Sir Richard Branson after Queen Elizabeth knighted him in 1999 for his business ability and enthusiasm for the spirit of Britain.

TOPICS:

  • Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur
  • Screw It, Let's Do It: 14 Lessons on Making it to the Top While Having Fun & Staying Green
  • Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had, Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way
Richard Branson speaker

Speaker Video

Other speakers you might like:

Tristan MacManus

Co-Host of Network Ten's Studio Ten, Irish born Tristan MacManus has featured in five seasons of the American Dancing With The Stars, where two of his celebrity partners included Gladys Knight and Pamela Anderson and the UK’s Strictly Come Dancing for two seasons.

Sarah Harris

As Co-Host of Network Ten's Studio Ten, it takes a special mix of sass and smarts to wrangle co-hosts, media heavyweights and celebrity guests in front of a live audience every day but Sarah has both in spades.

Brett Connellan

Turning the worst day of your life into your best is no easy feat, but sometimes there is simply no other option. In Brett Connellan’s case, this day included the moment every surfer’s worst nightmare became his reality when he was attacked by a Great White Shark.

 Fortunately, the cards fell in Brett’s favour, and he managed to pull through with the help of a brave friend, timely emergency support and a healthy serving of luck.

Professor Veena Sahajwalla

A materials scientist, engineer and inventor, Professor Veena Sahajwalla pioneers research into waste – turning it into a new generation of green materials and products. She does this as the Founding Director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology at the University of New South Wales. In 2022 Professor Veena Sahajwalla was named the 2022 NSW State Australian of the Year.

Dylan Alcott

A dual sport athlete who represented Australia on the international stage in both wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis since the age of 13. Dylan Alcott made history in 2022 in becoming the first person with a visible disability to be made Australian of the Year in the award's 62-year history.

Back to Top