Dietrich Mateschitz, the owner of Red Bull and one of its co-founders, passed away on Saturday, according to the Formula One team for the corporation. He was 78.
Red Bull, his employer, informed staff members through email of his passing without providing a cause or place of death. According to news sources from Germany and Austria, cancer was to blame. Requests for comment from Red Bull were not immediately fulfilled.
Mr Mateschitz (pronounced MAH-tuh-shitz), who worked as a salesman for a company that produced toothpaste and personal hygiene items in the 1980s, learned about the elixirs offered in Asian pharmacies as energy boosters for workers and truckers. He made contact with Chaleo Yoovidhya, the creator of one of them, whose beverage, Krathing Daeng, is known as “red bull” in English.
The two established a partnership, and in 1987, Mr Mateschitz brought the Westernized energy drink to his native Austria after three years of experimenting with the Thai recipe.
Although some health officials have questioned the safety of taurine, an amino acid that is a crucial ingredient, and concerns have been raised about the drink’s high sugar and caffeine content, the company took off and sold nearly 10 billion cans of Red Bull worldwide last year alone, according to its website. It has also been occasionally banned in some countries.
Red Bull, the beverage which gave rise to a horde of rivals, swiftly developed into a marketing behemoth with significant investments in sports and media industries. According to reports, Mr Mateschitz invested up to 30% of his earnings in marketing and public relations.
He developed a daring and high-performance image for the drink through its extensive sponsorship of sports teams and individuals, both traditional and cutting-edge. For Red Bull, “sports is marketing, and marketing is sports — and the firm won’t stop until the two things are one,” The New York Times stated in 2006.
Additionally, well-known as a real estate, automobile, and aircraft collector, Mr Mateschitz. In his later years, he expanded his media empire with periodicals and television networks that primarily covered sports but also controversially featured a far-right and extreme viewpoints channel.
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He avoided suits, red carpets, and reporters he couldn’t control while being nearly always tanned and sporting a three-day beard. He was secretive about his personal life despite his relentless pursuit of attention; according to reports, he allegedly bought a social gossip magazine to prevent it from writing about him.
In 2004 and 2006, he acquired his first and second Formula 1 race teams, respectively. With 89 victories, the Red Bull squad rose to become one of the finest in the world. Max Verstappen, the club’s top driver, won his second Formula 1 championship this month. On Sunday, the day following Mr Mateschitz’s passing, the team won its fifth constructors’ championship—the prize for the best racing season.
The investment was profitable.
In a 2010 interview with the German publication Der Spiegel, Mr Mateschitz stated, “at the end of the day, it’s always about recognition and appreciation of a brand and the related firm.” With the help of this attitude, Red Bull has become one of the most valuable brands in the world.
Along with big soccer teams, he also invested in so-called extreme sports like windsurfing, cliff diving, motocross, and mountain biking. The New York Red Bulls are one of the top teams in the world.
The business even developed a series of air races where stunt planes competed through slalom courses consisting of enormous pylons, named initially Red Bull Air Race.
One of the wealthiest persons in the world, Mr Mateschitz, owned a 49 per cent stake in Red Bull (the remaining ownership was held by Mr Chaleo and his son). This year, according to Forbes’ estimates, his net worth was $19.4 billion, ranking him as the 75th richest person in the world.
On May 20, 1944, Dietrich Mateschitz was born in the Austrian village of St. Marein im Mürztal, located 30 miles north of Graz. Before going it alone with Red Bull in 1987, he worked in sales and as the marketing director for the German company Blendax, which makes personal hygiene products, after completing his business administration degree at the Vienna University of Economics and Business.
Mark Mateschitz, a son from a previous relationship, and Marion Feichtner, Mr Mateschitz’s companion, survive him. Mr Mateschitz never wed.
Mr Mateschitz participated in far-right politics, despite his marketing focus on sports. The far-right U.S. website Breitbart was referred to as “Breitbart from the Alps” by the left-leaning German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, also called Mr Mateschitz’s ServusTV channel the “home station of Austrian right-wing populism.”
He expressed his concerns about political correctness, condemned Germany’s refugee policies, and supported President Donald J. Trump in a rare interview with an Austrian newspaper in 2017.
He chose a life away from the spotlight for himself, even though he owed much of his success to his capacity to generate exposure for his business. He declined most requests for interviews and shunned social gatherings where paparazzi might be present. According to reports, the company email that announced his death even urged staff to “express your grief softly and reservedly.” There was no formal announcement on the Red Bull website.
But he was adept at spotting the attention-grabbing gimmick. He supported Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner’s effort to make the world’s highest jump in 2012. In front of a live-streaming audience of millions, Mr Baumgartner climbed into the stratosphere in a helium balloon. He then jumped from an altitude of more than 24 miles above the New Mexico desert while wearing a spacesuit and helmet covered in Red Bull emblems.
Mr Mateschitz welcomed Mr Baumgartner when he touched down after being the first person to break the sound barrier on their own.
But there was never any connection between the spectacular feats of athleticism and bravery that Mr Mateschitz funded and the beverage itself.
Mr Mateschitz claimed to consume as much as 12 cans of Red Bull each day and informed the reporters that he was a loyal customer.
But he claimed that he had put on too much weight in 2006. He claimed he had to convert to the diet version a few years prior.
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