Sir Richard Branson net worth - all you need to know about the entrepreneur and how he makes his money

Sir Richard Branson stars in new four-part series Branson on Sky and Now TV

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(Image credit: Getty)

Sir Richard Branson is estimated to have a net worth of $5.1 billion so it comes as no surprise that he became the first passenger to reach space in his own spacecraft - and with a four-part documentary dedicated to his endeavours, we look at all you need to know about the entrepreneur and how he makes his money.

Sixteen days before Sir Richard Branson is scheduled to make a potentially historic flight as the first passenger to reach space in his own spacecraft in July 2021, the billionaire entrepreneur sits down for a conversation with acclaimed filmmaker Chris Smith, in light of the risk that lies ahead. 

Chris ultimately takes viewers on an expansive and intimate 70-year journey, from Richard’s British upbringing as the son of a spirited, tough-love mother Eve (opens in new tab) who died from Coronavirus last year, to his pursuits of extreme, personal daredevilry that serve both to grow his businesses’ brands and feed his insatiable, lifelong thirst for high-stakes adventure.

With added insight from family members - dad to son Sam (opens in new tab) and daughter Holly (opens in new tab) and Clare - business associates, and journalists, and illustrated by decades of archival and home video footage, BRANSON reveals the ups and downs of a man driven by risk taking in both his business and personal life, reflecting on the costs and rewards of his lifelong, relentless optimism and boundary-pushing.

As we look at all you need to know about how he makes his money...

What did Richard Branson do to make his money?

Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group - a British multinational venture capital conglomerate that owns more than 400 subsidiary companies in entertainment, retail, travel, hospitality, mobile communications, banking, sports and aerospace.

After dropping out of school where he struggled with dyslexia, Branson began his entrepreneurial career as a 15-year-old publisher of a student magazine called Student. His first failed business was a Christmas tree sales business. But in 1970, he launched Virgin as a mail-order record retailer before founding Virgin Records, which went on to sign household names from the Sex Pistols to the Rolling Stones and he went on to become a millionaire by the age of 22 with the booming success of Virgin Records.

Branson’s Virgin brand grew rapidly during the 1980s, as he started Virgin Atlantic airline and expanded the Virgin Records music label along with a myriad of other Virgin branded businesses with varying levels of success.

In 1997, he founded the Virgin Rail Group and paved the way for space tourism, culminating in the launch of Virgin Galactic, his commercial spaceflight company in 2004 and in 2017 founded the small satellite launch service Virgin Orbit. 

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At what age did Richard Branson become a millionaire?

Richard Branson became a millionaire at the age of 23. He earned his first million in 1973 and just two decades later, the Virgin Group founder reached self-made-billionaire status at age 41.

His record-breaking, transoceanic boat and balloon challenges, and now his crusade to bring customers to space, have all been positioned by Richard with the Virgin brand front and center. He remains a complex figure, committed to both philanthropic initiatives and his own bottom line.

He is passionate about finding ways to drive positive change in the world.

“Throughout my life, I’ve been drawn to the impossible business ventures that spark my curiosity,” Richard Branson said. “However, I’ve learned that reaching for the stars requires a daring and disruptive mindset, and I’m delighted to share my personal and professional experiences to help guide the next generation of innovators looking to change the world.”  

For his “services to entrepreneurship,” Richard was knighted at Buckingham Palace in March 2000. And in 2004, he established Virgin Unite, the nonprofit foundation of the Virgin Group, which unites people and entrepreneurial ideas to create opportunities for a better world. 

In 2016 he joked on Twitter, "When I got knighted I did wonder whether the royal sword would be used to chop my head off" in reference to the time he prepared to gatecrash the Queen's silver jubilee with a river boat party (opens in new tab) playing punk classic God Save The Queen after his Virgin record label had signed The Sex Pistols, who were busy causing Anarchy in the UK and making a name for our record label in the process. 

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Where is Richard Branson today?

Today, Richard Branson is in New York on site as Virgin Hotels put the finishing touches to the New York premises. He shared an Instagram photo of him stood at the side of a window in the building and captioned it, "Helping the team at @virginhotelsnyc with the final touches… precision is key! 🔨"

The 38-story, 460-room hotel is set to open soon.

How much does Richard Branson make a year?

Richard Branson's business Virgin Group makes at least $21 billion a year in revenue, according to Business Insider (opens in new tab). It is difficult to calculate his individual earnings but if he hypothetically liquidated all of his assets and invested them into a handful of stocks or REITS (Real Estate Investment Trusts) in that yielded at the very least a conservative 4.5% dividend yield, he could easily be earning himself a cool $211.5 million per year, before taxes.

Branson is available to stream on Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW.

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Selina Maycock
Senior Entertainment Writer

Selina is a Senior Entertainment Writer with more than 14 years of experience in newspapers and magazines. She currently looks after all things Entertainment for Goodto.com, Woman&Home, and My Imperfect Life. Before joining Future Publishing, Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism. She is fully NCTJ and NCE qualified and has 100wpm shorthand. When she's not interviewing celebrities you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories.