Dietrich Mateschitz, Co-founder and CEO of Red Bull GmbH and considered the richest men in Austria died Saturday at age 78. Two years ago he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and has been seriously ill ever since.
Mateschitz’s achievement was to see the potential of a sweetened, non-carbonated energy drink drink called Krating Daeng (literally Red Bull), which he discovered in the 1980s in Thailand while working as the international marketing director for German toothpaste company Blendax. In 1984 together with the Thai inventor of the drink, Chaleo Yoovidhya, he co-founded Red Bull GmbHin his home country Austria. In 1987, after reformulating the drink and developing a marketing concept for three years, he finally launched the drink, which was totally new to Western markets.
Subsequently, he turned Red Bull into a world market leader among energy drinks, expanding its distribution to over 171 countries. In 2021, the group sold 9.8 billion Red Bull cans worldwide and achieved a turnover of EUR 7.8bn (USD 7.7bn).
According to the latest Forbes’ list, Mateschitz had a personal net worth of roughly USD 27.4bn, though he never had a majority in the company. 51% of Red Bull is still owned by the family of Chaleo Yoovidhya who died in 2012 at the age of 88.
Red Bull’s marketing targeted at young urban professionals includes sponsoring extreme sport events including cliff diving, BMX, skiing, flying, downhill and free-ride mountain biking and skateboarding. The motto, "Red Bull Gives You Wiiings" directly plays on the stimulating properties of the beverage.
Through his company, Mateschitz was the founder and owner of Red Bull Racing, a leading Formula 1 racing team, that won both the drivers' and constructors' titles in 2010 and did so for another three consecutive years. The company also owns Scuderia AlphaTauri, another formula one racing team, which was renamed in 2020 from Toro Rosso (Italian for Red Bull) to promote AlphaTauri, a fashion brand founded in 2016 as a brand extension of Red Bull into the fashion industry.
Among other things, Red Bull also owns football clubs including Austria's Red Bull Salzburg, New York Red Bull, and Germany’s RB Leipzig.
Red Bull Media House GmbH, was founded in 2007 by Mateschitz to pool Red Bull's media activities. The company owns the Austrian television channel Servus TV and operates a YouTube channel, which is the most subscribed channel in Austria.
Mateschitz collected historical airplanes, which he also used as advertising media as so-called Flying Bulls and for which he had his own airplane hangar built next to his house in Salzburg, Austria.
Mateschitz' only child is his son Mark Mateschitz, who was born Mark Gerhardter in 1993. His mother, Anita Gerhardter, a former ski instructor, was in a relationship with Dietrich Mateschitz for two years. She is now CEO of the not-for-profit foundation Wings for Life, founded by Mateschitz and former motocross world champion Heinz Kinigadner.
In August 2017, son Mark Mateschitz started his career in the beverage industry as Managing Director of family-owned Thalheimer Heilwasser GmbH (inside.beer, 22.8.2018) which sells among other things Thalheim beer, the only beer brewed with untreated medicinal artesian water that is very mineral-rich and has a water hardness of 70 degrees German water hardness (about 10 times harder than the normal water for beer). In April 2022 he resigned from Thalheimer and took a seat at Wings for Life alongside his mother and Heinz Kinigadner.
Red Bull's future leadership is yet to be determined. The Thai majority owners gave the successful Dietrich Mateschitz free rein in his ventures. Whether this also applies to his son is uncertain.
Today, the Yoovidhya family holding TC Agro Trading holds 49 percent of the energy drink maker, and clan leader Chalerm Yoovidhya another 2 percent. He therefore plays the decisive role in the succession and future orientation of the group. Chalerm's son Vorayuth Yoovidhya, who is said to have killed a police officer with his Ferrari in Bangkok in 2012 and has since eluded the law enforcement authorities, is out of the question for the successor.