Sir Richard Branson is Britain’s, and perhaps the world’s, best-known and successful entrepreneurs and business speakers.
From humble beginnings as a mail order record retailer, his megabrand, Virgin, has become home to more than 400 companies, encompassing anything from gyms, gambling houses and bridal boutiques to fleets of planes, trains and limousines. The company has recently been pioneering space tourism: Virgin Galactic is slated to start carrying passengers into the thermosphere in the next couple of years.
Richard Branson is also a renowned philanthropist. He has pledged the next 10 years of profits from his transportation empire (an amount expected to reach $3 billion) to the development of renewable alternatives to carbon fuels. His Virgin Earth Challenge offers a $25 million prize to the first person to come up with an economically viable solution to the greenhouse gas problem.
Richard Branson has been involved in a number of world record-breaking attempts since 1985. Perhaps best known, in January 1991 Richard crossed the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Arctic Canada, the furthest distance of 6,700 miles. He broke all existing records, with speeds of up to 245 miles per hour in a balloon of 2.6 million cubic feet. Sir Richard’s latest entries into the Guiness World Records include being the oldest person to cross the English Channel by kiteboard and having the most followers on LinkedIn. In September 2013, he led 318 participants to set a new record for the largest number of kitesurfers to complete a one-mile course, in Hampshire.
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