Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (born 18 July 1950) is an English businessman and investor. He is best known as the founder of Virgin Group, which comprises more than 400 companies.
At the age of sixteen his first business venture was a magazine called Student, where he interviewed the likes of Mick Jagger and R.D. Laining. In 1970, he set up a mail-order record business. In 1972, he opened a chain of record stores, Virgin Records (a testament to how new they were at the business), later known as Virgin Megastores. Branson's Virgin brand grew rapidly during the 1980s, as he set up Virgin Atlantic and expanded the Virgin Records music label.
Branson made several world record-breaking attempts after 1985, when he attempted the fastest Atlantic Ocean crossing. In 1986, in his "Virgin Atlantic Challenger II", with sailing expert Daniel McCarthy, he beat the record by two hours. A year later his hot air balloon "Virgin Atlantic Flyer" crossed the Atlantic. In January 1991, Branson crossed the Pacific from Japan to Arctic Canada, 6,700 miles, in a balloon of 2,600,000 cubic feet, breaking the record with a speed of 245 miles per hour. In March 2004, Branson set a record by travelling from Dover to Calais in a Gibbs Aquada in 1 hour, 40 minutes and 6 seconds, the fastest crossing of the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle.
According to the Forbes 2014 list of billionaires, Branson is the seventh richest citizen of the United Kingdom, with an estimated net worth of US$4.9 billion.