Billionaire Co-Founder of Red Bull Dead at 78

Dietrich Mateschitz co-founded energy drink company, founded Red Bull F1 racing team
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 23, 2022 5:31 AM CDT
Man Who Turned Krating Daeng Into Red Bull Dead at 78
Red Bull chief Dietrich Mateschitz speaks on June 13, 2022, in Salzburg, Austria.   (AP Photo/Andreas Schaad, File)

Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, the co-founder of energy drink company Red Bull and founder and owner of the Red Bull Formula One racing team, has died. He was 78. Officials with the Red Bull racing team announced Mateschitz's death Saturday. The Guardian reports his death came after a long-term illness. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, president of motor sports governing body FIA, said Mateschitz was "a towering figure in motor sport," reports the AP.

Mateschitz and Thai investor Chaleo Yoovidhya founded the company in 1984 after Mateschitz recognized the potential in marketing Krating Daeng—another energy drink created by Chaleo—for a Western audience. Red Bull says Mateschitz worked on the formula for three years before the modified drink was launched under its new name in his native Austria in 1987. Under Mateschitz’s stewardship, Red Bull quickly increased its market share, first in Europe, then in the United States; Forbes puts Mateschitz’s net worth at $20.2 billion.

Mateschitz gained fame as the public face of Red Bull, an Austrian-Thai conglomerate that says it sold nearly 10 billion cans of its caffeine and taurine-based drink in 172 countries worldwide last year. Mateschitz not only helped the energy drink become popular around the world, but also built up a sports, media, real estate, and gastronomy empire around the brand. Mateschitz bought Ford's Formula 1 team Jaguar Racing in 2004; in a 2013 look at the team's transformation, Quartz notes Jaguar Racing didn't notch a single win in its five years under Ford; the situation drastically changed under Red Bull (read more here).

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The Red Bull Racing team's Formula 1 successes include winning the constructors’ championship in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, while German driver Sebastian Vettel won four drivers’ championships in row while signed to the team. Max Verstappen started in Red Bull's driver development program and became the youngest driver in F1 history to start a grand prix when he started with the junior Toro Rosso team at age 17 in 2015. The Dutchman is now the most dominant driver in the sport. (Yoovidhya died in 2012 and left a staggering fortune behind.)

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