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Richard Branson’s Galactic Ambitions

Science By
(Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

Since leaving school at the age of 16 to start his first business, the founder of the Virgin Group has driven a tank down Fifth Avenue, crossed the English Channel in an amphibious car, taken a 407-foot jump off the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, and traveled from Morocco to Hawaii in a hot-air balloon. He’s started more than 100 different companies, including a major record label and two high-profile airlines, and made a career of challenging corporate giants. He’s a master show- man in the P. T. Barnum vein, adept at catching the public’s eye with clever publicity stunts (thus the tank and the leap off the casino roof), and he’s been brilliant at understanding what consumers want and delivering it to them. He’s also been brilliant at fashioning a winning public image—fearless, irreverent, more interested in fun than profit—which over the years has become one of Virgin’s major assets and turned him into one of the greatest business impresarios in history. Yet despite all the success, which has driven his personal net worth north of $5 billion, he’s remained permanently restless. An archetypal entrepreneur, Branson has never stopped looking for the next big idea. He believes he’s found it in Virgin Galactic, a company that wants to put ordinary people into space. And he’s done it all, as he says, while working from a hammock on the private island in the Caribbean where he lives.

Read the full story from Maxim here.