CHAIRMAN, VIRGIN GROUP
The peripatetic founder of the Virgin Group, who began as an enterprising record-shop owner, has perhaps inevitably landed in the comfort zone. Branson’s first Virgin Hotel, which just opened in Chicago, is perhaps—but don’t wager on it—the final puzzle piece in the entrepreneur’s constellation of travel-centric lifestyle brands. With furnishings and trim pieces in Virgin’s trademark red (Smeg mini-fridges may elicit more drool than their contents ever could), the address creates a fizzy, aesthetically seamless destination for Virgin America’s O’Hare airport arrivals. Branson remains, however, a man in motion, and construction on Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShip Two craft is nearly complete in California’s Mojave desert. Surpassing the speed of sound in a suborbital airplane remains the elusive No 1 record Branson wants to hear, again and again.