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From record labels, airlines, hotels, fitness clubs, mobile phones and even outer space, Sir Richard Branson has taken Virgin to some pretty lofty heights. His $17 billion empire includes more than 300 companies and his portfolio of companies is as diverse as they come.
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It’s a far cry for the Englishman who dropped out of high school at the age 16 and struggled with dyslexia in his early years.
Branson’s first venture was in the publishing world - launching a magazine called Student. Four years later, he set up a music mail-order business that proved to be a huge success, calling it “Virgin” because everyone involved in the venture was new. His chain of record stores was called Virgin Records and he later re-branded them to be known as Virgin Megastores.
After successfully competing with many of the high street stores, Branson launched his Virgin Records label and signed many controversial bands including the Sex Pistols.
During the 1980’s the Virgin brand grew and his ability to showcase the company as a brand of ‘cool’ and ‘hip’ helped attract millions of young people to buy his records and listen to his bands. In 1984 Branson founded Virgin Atlantic Airways and later he launched Virgin Mobile, Virgin trains, Virgin Blue... the list continues.
After accumulating billions, Branson continues to innovate. In 2004, Branson created a new space tourism company called Virgin Galactic to bring passengers into space for a price of $200,000. He also ventured into a number of green technologies to address the problem of global warming - investing millions in creating renewable fuels.
Although the Virgin brand is known around the world, Richard Branson is also a celebrity in his own right. Known for his extravagant product launches and sometimes cheesy promos, Branson has a name that is recognizable around the world.
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