Flamboyant Virgin supremo Richard Branson has advised his team to be ready to compete with fast-growing “sharing economy” startups like Uber and Airbnb.
“I quite often say to our team, ‘We should be competing with Airbnb. We should be competing with Uber. We’ve got the brand,’” Branson told Mashable.com.
Branson is a firm defender of technology disruptors and a backer of tech startups. He made an early investment in Uber as well as investments in car rental operation HailO and Sidecar.
Virgin America also partnered with Airbnb for a lodging giveaway tied to its new San Francisco-Oahu, Hawaii route, which began last week.
“Why do I invest in start-ups? Because they are the job creators and innovators of the future,” Branson told a Virgin forum recently.
“I am delighted to see so many entrepreneurs taking their start-ups to the next level and transforming the way we do business. These businesses not only have the potential to become a vital source of employment, innovation and productivity to economies, they are a shining example to younger generations that creativity, passion and hard work can change the world for the better.
“Virgin is a brand that appreciates the benefits smart disruption can bring. We love original products that make a positive difference to people’s lives and services that shake up markets. Investing in these exciting start-ups and giving them the funds they need to grow into companies that deliver on their disruptive potential is essential.”
Lyft, Uber’s main rival in the US, poached Virgin America’s creative director last year. The Lyft approach is often compared to that of Virgin.
At the debut of Virgin America’s San Francisco-Honolulu service last week, Branson spoke with the San Francisco Business Times about his investments in startups Uber Technologies, Airbnb and Ring.
The Ring Video Doorbell aids security by allowing users to answer their doorbell anywhere using their smartphone.
Virgin America will begin a second Hawaii route, from San Francisco to Maui on 3 December 2015.
Written by Peter Needham