Austrian Billionaire Behind Red Bull Empire Reigned Quietly

If you've never heard of the Alpine EU's richest member, Red Bull's late founder Dietrich Mateschitz, you're not the only one — this billionaire was a quiet success.

Mateschitz was born in 1944 in the Austrian province of Styria, where his career began as a salesman for Unilever. After years with Unilever, he became the Marketing Director of Blendax, a German cosmetics company. On a business trip to Hong Kong, he was served a popular beverage called Krating Daeng, made in Thailand by entrepreneur Chaleo Yoovidhya — and it immediately cured his jetlag. From that moment on, Mateschitz knew he had to find Yoovidhya and work with him to bring this beverage to the Western market.

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After Yoovidhya and Mateschitz altered the formula of the beverage slightly to cater to Western tastes, they launched Red Bull in 1984. Mateschitz used his marketing acumen to make Red Bull's image stick in the minds of consumers by partnering with extreme sports such as skydiving and racecar driving. Red Bull then expanded to sponsoring musical artists, aviation, and a football club in the German Bundesliga. The company has also owned multiple Formula One racing teams over the years.

Today, Red Bull is one of the most popular energy drinks on the market and is sold in 172 countries. With 13,000 employees, Red Bull moves almost 10 billion cans for close to $9 billion in sales annually.

Mateschitz's private life remained almost a complete mystery even through his successes. He rarely gave interviews and dressed casually. He frequently bought old castles and homes in the Austrian Alps for the sake of preservation, purchased an island in Fiji, and often donated to help spinal cord injury research.

Later in life, in 2007, Mateschitz founded a media company called Media House, which provides Austria with digital entertainment, news, and more. He passed from pancreatic cancer on October 22, 2022, at the age of 78, with an estimated net worth of $27.4 billion and a 49% share of the company he helped found.