Virgin_Group_Reaching_for_the_Sky_in_a_New_Economy.doc - C A S E 9 Virgin Group Reaching for the Sky in a New Economy Sir Richard Branson has assembled

Virgin_Group_Reaching_for_the_Sky_in_a_New_Economy.doc - C...

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C A S E 9 Virgin Group: Reaching for the Sky in a New Economy Sir Richard Branson has assembled a collection of companies under the umbrella brand of “Virgin.” Branson has repeatedly confounded analysts with his ability to spot emerging trends and profit by them. One senior executive at Virgin describes the company as a “branded venture-capital firm.” (1) Branson has continually redefined Virgin’s business operations, branching out into a variety of ventures but always capitalizing on his exuberant entrepreneurial spirit. Richard Branson: Young Entrepreneur Born in 1950, Branson’s first entrepreneurial venture emerged when he was a 16- year student at a boarding school. He founded a magazine called Student to address contemporary issues of the time, such as the Vietnam War and the Paris student uprising. While raising about $6,000 over a six-month period to fund the magazine, Branson recruited well-known celebrities like Jean-Paul Sarte and Vanessa Redgrave, among others to be interviewed or to write for the publication. (2) Branson, with his brashness, extraordinary ambition, and passion for success, went on to become a billionaire entrepreneur. The magazine was followed in 1970 with a venture into discount records. Branson and Company ran ads in a mail-order catalog and an increasing number of individuals purchased discounted records from them. Then his group from the magazine found an old shop, cleaned it up, and started a discount record store. Searching for a name for the business, three options were identified: “Slipped Disc,” “Student,” and “Virgin.” Since they were all virgins at business, the Virgin name was selected. (3) It quickly became the largest discount music megastore chain in the world. In 1972 Branson branched out into the music recording business with Virgin Records. His first recording artist, Mike Oldfield, released “Tubular Bells” and went on 1
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to sell over 5 million copies. When punk rock became popular, Branson signed the Sex Pistols, a group no other recording studio would touch. Other groups included Genesis, Simple Minds, Culture Club, Phil Collins, and the Rolling Stones. Moving on to Other Ventures Other people might have been content with their early success, but Richard Branson was not finished. Running his business interests out of a houseboat on the Thames River, he launched Virgin Airways in 1984 (now Virgin Atlantic) with a single jumbo jet. Taking on British Airways, he sued them for alleged dirty tricks and won. The
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