Richard Branson: 15 Facts You Didn’t Know (Part 1)

Sir Richard Branson started his Virgin empire in the early 1970s with his first chain of record shops, branded Virgin Records. Over the last 45 years, he has grown Virgin Group into a world renowned organization with more than 400 companies attached to the name. Branson remains one of the richest men in the world with a net worth of nearly $5 Billion. His latest ventures include Virgin Trains East Coast, and Virgin Galactic, which is getting ready to launch their second rocket into space. Read on to find out more about Sir Richard Branson, and stay tuned for part two of this list, coming soon.

Number Fifteen: Richard Branson Does Not Have Sole Control of Most of His Virgin Empire

With the exception of a few of the bigger companies, many of Branson’s Virgin properties have major shareholders that act as partners. A number of his other companies, such as Virgin Mobile USA, Virgin Mobile Australia and Virgin Radio and Virgin Music, where purchased from him and pay to license the Virgin name.

Number Fourteen: He Cried When He Sold Virgin Records

Branson is very attached to all of his businesses, so when he has to sell one, he feels it. That was the case with Virgin Records, which he sold to EMI in 1992. In an interview with Reuters, he equated the experience to “selling your children,” saying that he ran down the street with tears in his eyes and a check in his hand.

Number Thirteen: He Helped Found an Organization to Decrease the World’s Carbon Footprint

In 2009, Sir Richard Branson, along with his charity, Virgin Unite, started Carbon War Room. Carbon War Room’s purpose is to find ways to remove as much carbon from the earth’s atmosphere as possible as quickly as possible. This think tank has brought together many entrepreneurs, government and business leaders, and other key stakeholders to find opportunities others may have missed. The think tank issued the Ten Island Challenge in 2014, and recently started installing solar power systems in a number of executive residences, including in St. Lucia, saving the government a lot of money in energy expenses.

Number Twelve: He Also Had the Idea to Start an Organization to Stop Human Rights Abuses

Branson, along with Peter Gabriel, had the idea for a group of “independent, progressive leaders” working together to combat global human rights problems. The two brought the idea up to Nelson Mandela in 2007 and The Elders was born. Mandela, along with world leaders such as Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and others formed a 10-member panel and discussed issues relating to peace-building, effecting compromise in war-affected areas, sustainable development and women’s rights.

Number Eleven: He Named His Record Store ‘Virgin’ Because It Was His First Business Ever

Sir Richard Branson chose the name ‘virgin’ for his record store for his greenness in the industry. Though he had cut his teeth in business on a magazine called Student, he had never handled a business on his own before. Since he was inexperienced, he called the venture Virgin Records.

Number Ten: He Hosted a Reality Show

In the 2004- 2005 television season, Sir Richard Branson produced a reality show for FOX called The Rebel Billionaire: Branson’s Quest for the Best. The program featured 16 entrepreneurs competing in extreme physical challenges, as well as business challenges, in order to with the opportunity to work with Branson as president of Virgin, as well as a $1 Million cash prize. The show only lasted one season.

Number Nine: He Has Produced Several Documentaries

Over the years, Branson has produced several documentaries and films. Some of their topics include business (Equation of Change), humanitarian work in Africa (Jambo Jumbo), nuclear energy (Pandora’s Promise) and the solar system (The Space Movie). Check back soon for part two of our list of 15 interesting facts about Richard Branson.