5 Facts About Richard Branson’s Net Worth
Richard Branson’s net worth is $4.9 billion.
(Source: “#286 Richard Branson,” Forbes, last accessed March 7, 2016.)
The British billionaire rose to fame through a mixture of adventurous capers and business savvy—a blend that proved irresistible to the tabloid culture in England. Here are five stunning facts you may not know about Richard Branson—sorry, Sir Richard Branson.
1. He Started a Company in High School
The first venture Branson ever launched was a magazine called The Student. (Source: “Richard Branson Fast Facts,” CNN, July 4, 2015.) It was a turning point for the young entrepreneur. He had suffered from dyslexia and underperformed in most of his academic career before realizing his other talents. The magazine was an immediate hit and Branson dropped out of high school soon after.
2. His Virgin Empire Began with a Mail-Order Business
Following the success of The Student, Branson left school and started a mail-order record business. He soon found that delivering records wasn’t enough. With the help of a friend, Branson opened his first record shop under the name Virgin Records. He apparently chose the name because he was so new to the entrepreneurial life.
A year later, he and his colleague launched Virgin Records as a record label for signing artists. They built a studio in a country estate that Branson managed to buy with the profits from the store. One of the first albums they released was Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells. Although Oldfield was relatively unknown at the time, the album became a chart-topper, launching Virgin Records into the mainstream.
3. Virgin Is More Than a Music Empire
In 1984, Branson took a bold step. Up until that point, he’d been squarely in the music industry, but now he decided to break into the airline industry. His company, Virgin Atlantic Airways, was only the beginning of his aviation fantasies. He later launched offshoots of Virgin Airlines in Australia, the United States, and Nigeria.
But when you’re an eternally optimistic entrepreneur like Branson, why stop at the sky? He also established a space tourism company called Virgin Galactic. The company is still at the testing phase, although there was a major setback when a rocket exploded mid-flight, killing one of the pilots.
4. He Is a Major Adrenaline Junky
Branson has done some truly miraculous stunts. In 1986, he beat the record for crossing the Atlantic by two full hours. He achieved this monumental feat in his 72-foot powerboat, the “Virgin Atlantic Challenger II.” (Source: “1986: Branson beats Atlantic speed record,” BBC, June 29, 1986; http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/june/29/newsid_2520000/2520929.stm.)
A year later, he travelled across the Atlantic Ocean again; that time, he did it in a hot air balloon. Then in 1991, he crossed the Pacific Ocean—again in a hot air balloon! (Source: “Why Hot-Air Ballooning Is Richard Branson’s Favorite Way To Travel,” Business Insider, October 12, 2014; http://www.businessinsider.com/richard-branson-on-hot-air-ballooning-2014-10.)
5. Branson Sold One Business for $1.0 Billion
Remember when I said Branson started his Virgin empire with a mail-delivery record business that led to a record company? Well, that company was eventually sold to EMI Music for $1.0 billion. (Source: “Branson recalls tears, $1 billion check in Virgin Records sale,” Reuters, October 23, 2013; http://www.reuters.com/article/us-richardbranson-virgin-idUSBRE99N01U20131024.)
And that was in 1992. In today’s money, the deal is about $1.69 billion. Branson was reportedly upset at giving up his original centerpiece, but considering that he still has 400 companies under his belt, I wouldn’t be too worried.
Richard Branson’s Net Worth by Year
Data source: Forbes