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Most Interesting Man in the World, you've got nothing on Sir Richard Branson

Zillionaire, space traveler, ballooner, and kite-surfer willing to give piggyback rides to nude models, uber-preneur Branson may not be as familiar with Americans, aside from shopping in his (extant) record stores or jetting aboard his brainchild Virgin America (which just expanded routes). Lucky for us, his venture into mobile space gives us a peek into how the billionaire came to be — sort of. Witness pitchman greatness in The Fantastic Tale of Young Branson, in an ad that's getting chuckles:

While Branson is busy tickling the funny bones of American consumers on the mobile front, Forbes recounts the business strategy of this high school dropout-turned-record store owner-turned-empire builder, from a recent CNBC interview:

    “Virgin likes to come in to businesses where people are being nickeled and dimed and where the quality of services is pretty dire. What’s happened in America is you have got these enormous airlines that are getting bigger and bigger and, now, the last thing they seem to think about is quality of service. In every other industry in America—hotels, restaurants, clubs, et cetera—quality is of paramount importance. However on a competitive basis, the airlines play into our hands, the more they make decisions like this which the public dislike.”

Not bad 99% thinking for a 1% guy, as they'd say in the Occupy-ese.. Of course, as Huffington Post pointed out, some labor forces might not think so fondly of Branson, in light of a recent video in which he asks flight attendants to consider how joining Transport Workers Union would take away their "uniqueness."

Nevertheless, the media-savvy Branson continues his rampant ubiquity: He recently blogged about "unaffordable, inaccessible university systems," has called to decriminalize drug use, may be on his way of changing up the banking industry, and — with prodding from Al Gore — offered $25 million to anyone who comes up with "commercially viable design which results in the net removal of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases." (The challenge's shortlist is down to 11 companies, of which six hail from the U.S.).

Virgin Atlantic so far remains his biggest glory. That and his genius for self-showmanship. Here's his latest parlor trick: opening a bottle of bubbly with a saber.


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