These Are the Startups That Richard Branson Is Backing With His Billions

With a net worth of $4.9 billion, the founder of the Virgin Group is constantly on the lookout for the next big thing to invest in.

These Are the Startups That Richard Branson Is Backing With His Billions
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Taking shares in fast-growing companies is a pastime for many of the world's richest people, including the founder of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson.

Wealthy individuals are constantly on the look out for the next big thing as they look to carry on building their already-impressive personal fortunes. 

Branson's net worth of $4.9 billion (£3.2 billion) makes him one of the richest men on the planet.

Here are the 18 technology companies that Branson is backing around the world, according to CrunchBase.

The investments are listed in chronological order.

$83.75 million (£55 million) in virtual medical care provider Doctor on Demand.

Doctor On Demand claims to be the fastest and easiest way to see an urgent care doctor or psychologist on your computer, tablet, or phone. The company puts patients in front of psychologists, physicians, pediatricians, and lactation consultants for $40 (£26) upwards. The service is currently only available in the US. 

Investments made: $62.75 million (£41.3 million) in July 2015 and $21 milion (£13.8 million) in August 2014. 

$6.4 million (£4.2 million) in cloud computing firm Rescale.

Rescale is a cloud simulation platform consisting of software and hardware that aims to help engineers and scientists build, compute, analyse, and scale simulations with high performance computing. The San Francisco company was founded in early 2011 by Joris Poort and Adam McKenzie. 

Investment made: July 2015. 

$30 million (£20 million) in travel booking software firm Zozi.

Zozi's platform provides web-based bookings, payments and customer management software for tour, activity and event businesses. The company aims to help people discover and book thousands of activities and getaways, and get the gear they need. 

Investment made: July 2015.  

$500 million (£329 million) in internet satellite provider OneWeb (through the Virgin Group fund).

OneWeb is aiming to deliver internet broadband services across the world with a network comprising up to 700 satellites as early as 2019. The company wants to reach "hundreds of millions of potential users residing in places without [existing] broadband access." European aerospace giant Airbus is also involved in the project.

Investment made: June 2015. 

$43 million (£28 million) in clothing exchange platform Tradesy.

Tradesy describes itself as "a free, fast and fun [way] to sell clothes online." The platform allows people to earn cash for clothing and accessories they don't wear. In addition to normal clothes, a number of people are using Tradesy to sell on their wedding dresses, handbags, and jewellery.  

Investments made: $30 million (£20 million) in January 2015 and $13 million (£8.5 million) in May 2014. 

$83 million (£55 million) in London fintech startup Transferwise.

Transferwise cofounders Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus

TransferWise is a money-transfer platform that was cofounded in January 2011 by Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus. The company has become one of London's leading fintech startups with its service that allows individuals to transfer money between countries. Transferwise manages to offer its services so cheaply by matching up payments with those going the opposite direction using sophisticated software. 

Investments made: $58 million (£38 million) in January 2015 and $25 million (£16 million) in June 2014. 

$25 million (£16 million) in online petition platform is a platform that allows people to run online petitions and gain support for issues they feel strongly about. The free petition tool boasts more than 100 million users and hosts sponsored campaigns for organisations like Amnesty International and the Humane Society. 

Investment made: December 2014. 

$30 million (£20 million) in bitcoin wallet Blockchain.

Blockchain claims to be the world's most popular Bitcoin wallet. Bitcoin is a form of digital currency, created and held electronically. It's not controlled by anyone and it's not printed like dollars or pounds either. They're produced by people, and increasingly businesses, running computers all around the world, using software that solves mathematical problems.

Blockchain claims that its platform is home to the most widely used Bitcoin APIs and trusted block explorer and search engine. The company has raised a total of $30 million from investors in Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and London.

Investment made: October 2014. 

$15 million (£10 million) in ride-sharing startup Sidecar.

Sidecar is a business-to-business delivery company. The startup offers three services:

  • Sidecar, a ride app that connects riders with everyday drivers in their personal vehicle
  • Shared Rides, a discounted instant carpooling app
  • and Sidecar Deliveries, which combines people and packages on the same route for the fastest, most affordable and innovative on-demand delivery solution for retailers.

Investment made: September 2014.  

An undisclosed amount in crowdfunding platform Indiegogo.

Indiegogo is a crowdfunding company that aims to help individuals, groups and non-profits raise money online so they can make their ideas a reality. The company was founded in San Francisco in 2007 by Danae Ringelmann, Slava Rubin, and Eric Schell.

Investment made: May 2014. 

$30 million (£20 million) in bitcoin payment processor BitPay.

BitPay is a global bitcoin payment service provider headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. It was founded in May 2011 by Tony Gallippi and Stephen Pair. The company specialises in processing bitcoin payments and enabling merchants to accept bitcoin using a variety of website plugins and other integrations.

Investment made: May 2014. 

$50 million (£33 million) in startup studio Expa.

Expa partners with founders to create new products and services, and build teams to scale them as independent companies. The company builder, based across San Francisco and New York, has also been backed by HP CEO Meg Whitman.

Investment made: March 2014. 

$500,000 (£330,000) in bike laserlight manufacturer Blaze.

Blaze is a London startup that has developed a £125 laserlight to help protect cyclists on the roads. The laserlight is a combination of powerful LED and laser projection that makes you more visible than simple LED lights. The laser image is projected up to 6 metres in front of the cyclist in order to give them a "larger footprint on the road."

Investment made: February 2014.  

$5 million (£3 million) in mobile payments company Clinkle.

Clinkle is a mobile payments startup company that was founded by Lucas Duplan in 2011. The company began as a small group of students that went on to raise in excess of $30 million (£20 million) in venture capital funding before imploding dramatically

Investment made: September 2013.

$30.6 million (£20 million) in taxi-app Hailo.

Hailo is a taxi app that helps licensed drivers in London, Dublin and Barcelona to find passengers. The company, which is headquartered in London, is aiming to compete with rival firms like Uber and Addison Lee.

Investment made: December 2012. 

$10 million (£6.6 million) in code-learning website Codecademy.

Codecademy is a website that aims to help people learn to code through a series of tutorials and gamified coding sessions. The platform has been adopted by a number of schools in the UK that want to get their pupils up to speed with the new computing curriculum. 

Investment made: June 2012. 

$1 million (£660,000) in online life management platform My Social Cloud.

My Social Cloud securely stores users passwords and auto populates password fields on social network sites. The company, built by a brother and sister team, was bought out by Reputation.dom in July 2013.

Investment made: March 2012. 

$3 million (£2 million) in mobile payment processing company Square.

San Francisco startup Square is a financial services, merchant services aggregator and mobile payment company. The firm, founded in 2009 by Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey, has several software and hardware payments products, including Square Register and Square Reader.

Investment made: December 2011. 

This story first appeared on Business Insider

Nov 19, 2015
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