Dietrich Mateschitz, the Austrian billionaire founder and owner of energy drink company Red Bull, died on Saturday at the age 78 after battling cancer.
Inspired by functional drinks from East Asia, Mateschitz co-founded Red Bull in the mid-1980s. He developed not only a new product but also a unique marketing concept and launched Red Bull Energy Drink in Austria on April 1, 1987. Red Bull created a completely new beverage category of energy drinks.
The success of Red Bull made the Styrian-born entrepreneur the richest man in Austria. Mateschitz's fortune is estimated at around 25 billion euros ($24.65 billion). This puts him in 51st place on Forbes' list on the world's richest people.
A total of 9.804 billion cans of Red Bull were sold worldwide in 2021, representing an increase of 24.3 percent against an already very successful 2020. Group turnover was up 23.9 percent from EUR 6.307 billion to EUR 7.816 billion.
Interestingly, the publicity and media-shy Mateschitz gained fame as the public face of Red Bull, the 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.
With the growing success of Red Bull, he expanded his investments in sports, specifically motorsports and extreme sports, and Red Bull now operates football clubs, ice hockey teams and F1 racing teams. Red Bull also has contracts with hundreds of athletes in various sports and a development program to get athletes and racers to the top level.
Red Bull operates soccer teams in top divisions across Austria, Germany, Brazil and the United States.
Mateschitz also bought the Jaguar Racing team from previous owner Ford at the end of 2004 and rebranded it as Red Bull for the 2005 season. Later that year, he also bought Minardi and renamed it Toro Rosso, using it as a feeder team for Red Bull.
This week, Red Bull's F1 racing team driver Max Verstappen clinched another World Championship title after he won the United States Grand Prix.
Following a thrilling battle with Scuderia Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, Verstappen hunted down Mercedes's Lewis Hamilton and reclaimed P1 with six laps remaining – earning a 13th win of the season and securing Red Bull’s first constructors’ title since 2013.
Red Bull Formula One team's principal Christian Horner said: “This has been a hugely emotional weekend. That was the best possible way we could’ve won that race. I think Dietrich would have been very proud of that."
Red Bull does truly out-of-the-world marketing events and campaigns.
In 2012, the brand captured the attention of the world with Red Bull Stratos mission which was a high altitude skydiving project involving Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner. Baumgartner flew approximately 39 kilometres into the stratosphere over New Mexico, US, in a helium balloon before free falling in a pressure suit and then parachuting to Earth.
It was a global event that truly embodied the brand's iconic slogan - Red Bull Gives You Wings.