As the charismatic founder and CEO of one of the world’s most profitable groups of companies, Sir Richard Branson is a man who’s quite often been in the news. Here is a list of 25 interesting facts about the Virgin CEO that you might not already know.
1. He owns an island
In 1978 he purchased Necker island for $180,000. This represented a fraction of the original asking price.
2. He knew Nelson Mandela personally
The two were good friends and even worked together on some charitable projects.
3. He has dyslexia
His learning disability made school less enjoyable for him but encouraged him to work on his people skills more which proved invaluable in his business endeavors.
4. He never finished high school
He decided at age 16 that school wasn’t for him and made the bold step into business by starting his first magazine and record company.
5. He was given a degree
Branson holds an honorary doctorate from Loughborough University in the field of Technology.
6. He was born in the year of the Tiger
Born in 1950, Branson exhibits many of the traits often associated with Tigers such as a gift for leadership, strong business skills and a thirst for adventure.
7. His favorite children’s book was “Swallows and Amazons” by Arthur Ransome
The themes appealed to his budding adventurer’s spirit.
8. He lost a child
The usually jovial CEO has experienced personal tragedy. His first daughter with his second wife was born premature in 1979 and died a few days after her birth.
9. He’s a huge Star Trek fan
As a result, the first commercial spacecraft owned by Virgin Galactic is named “Enterprise” after the fictional spaceship.
10. He has done several on screen cameos
He has made appearances on “Entourage”, “Friends” and “Superman Returns” just to name a few.
11. He publicly encouraged a boycott on Uganda by tourists and businesses
This came as a result of the country’s passing of laws that would punish homosexual acts even more harshly than they had in the past.
12. He was privately involved in a Ugandan political plot
The intention was to oust President Robert Mugabe but the plans fell through. This was revealed in documents released via Wikileaks.
13. His net worth is $5.1 Billion
This means he holds the rank of the 300th most wealthy person on the planet.
14. He hosted a look alike competition for himself
The contest took place back in 2009 to celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary and was open to male and female contestants. The winner walked away with VIP tickets to the celebrations.
15. He’s not a fan of entrepreneurial education
He was criticised for his public statement that British entrepreneurs are over educated.
16. He has spoken out against the “war on drugs”
His public stance has been that drug abuse should be met with treatment not jail time and the money used in pursuing drug offenders could be much better allocated.
17. He is a major philanthropist
He has been actively involved in or funded over twenty different charities.
18. He once auctioned 30 minutes of his time
Using Ebay, Branson set up the auction to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.
19. He invests in new entrepreneurs
In late 2013 he launched a new program called “Virgin Startup” which funds new businesspeople who are eighteen years and older.
20. He was knighted
Back in 1999 that honor was bestowed on him for his services in entrepreneurship. This was done as part of the millennium celebrations.
21. His current marriage has lasted decades
His first marriage lasted four years. After that divorce he married his present wife, Joan Templeman, in 1989 and the couple have remained together ever since.
22. He helped break a world record for kite-surfing
In 2013 he joined more than 300 kite-surfers to create the largest ever group to successfully navigate a course one mile in length.
23. He owns a pet tortoise
This particular tortoise is also quite resilient having survived a fire that leveled most of the property on Necker Island in 2011.
24. He is a best selling author
Sir Richard Branson has penned more than six different books including an exceptionally well received autobiography titled “Losing My Virginity”.
25. The company he first founded has grown into hundreds more
The Virgin Group of companies contains over 400 different companies including Virgin Galactic, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Drinks.