Branson Sees a Business Opportunity in the Global Warming Crisis

| Fri Sep. 22, 2006 5:43 PM EDT

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.