Large consumer brands with larger-than-life founders, including Virgin and Apple, often carry the burden of proper succession once their founders are no longer in the picture. Entrepreneur Richard Branson’s children, Holly and Sam, have had a frequent media presence recently so it’s not hard to imagine that their father would have been thoughtful about succession planning. Are they next in line?
With entertainment at the forefront of all of Virgin’s businesses, it’s also not difficult to guess that Virgin Produced CEO and co-founder Jason Felts (pictured above with Branson) will have a seat at the succession table, as well.
“My kids are involved and excited at all of the upcoming milestones at Virgin,” says Branson, who founded his company in 1970. “They are maybe more excited about my Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremony than Galactic getting passengers into space. And of course, everything Jason does and plans for the brand is done right.”
Felts has been the force behind Virgin projects such as the popular safety film for Virgin America that broke the mold for the genre and has been copied by other airlines. And he was also behind the push to partner with the Kaaboo music festival, for which he serves as chief brand officer, overseeing marketing and brand growth. That includes the Del Mar, Calif., festival expanding to annual events in the Cayman Islands and Texas, cementing itself as an affinity lifestyle brand akin to Virgin. Their latest project? Virgin Fest, announced on Oct. 16, a multi-experiential music festival series coming to the U.S. in 2019 and promising a diverse mix of music acts, cutting edge technological experiences, exclusive content, and a commitment to sustainability. Virgin Fest will be overseen by Felts and Bryan Gordon, founder of the KAABOO music festival brand.
As one of the people on the planet who knows Branson best, Felts says of his mentor and friend: “I continue to watch him lead our brand and our people at Virgin by example. With his focus on challenging industries, he infuses a sense of fun and entertainment into all of them. Using business overall as a force for good, Richard us one of the greatest entrepreneurs and philanthropists of our time.”