Richard Branson (profile) didn’t make his billions by being a sap — and the BBC didn’t get to be the BBC by taking PR at face value — so it’s no surprise the Beeb today is suggesting Branson’s move to invest $3bn in renewable energy technologies is “more than green philanthropy.” Could he also be “making a canny attempt to get in on the ground floor of a fast growing and innovative global industry” and “fulfill his mission to turn Virgin Fuels into a power giant in the same class as Shell or Exxon Mobil”? (Where have all the saints gone?)
There’s big money to be made in renewable fuels–at least that’s the general assumption–and many US biofuel firms are small-scale oufits. An unsentimental venture capitalist (not that there’s any other kind) tells the BBC, “Sir Richard wants to make money in a field where returns are being made right now.” Should we care that there’s a commercial logic to Branson’s decision? Of course not–the guy’s a businessman. I just hope this venture goes better than his round-the-world balloon voyages.