The fabulous life of Red Bull’s billionaire CEO

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Dietrich Mateschitz, cofounder of Red Bull.
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Vladimir Rys/Getty Images

With an estimated net worth of over $16 billion, Red Bull cofounder and CEO Dietrich Mateschitz is the wealthiest person in Austria.

After essentially creating the market for energy drinks with the invention of Red Bull in 1987, Mateschitz and cofounder Thai businessman Chaleo Yoovidhya came up with unique ways to promote the brand, like buying a Formula One racing team and partnering with Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner to do a 120,000-foot jump in 2012. According to Forbes, more than six billion cans of Red Bull were sold in 2016.

The reclusive 72-year-old is rarely seen in the spotlight, but in a candid interview with Austrian paper “Kleine Zeitung” last month, Mateschitz shared his opinion of President Trump and criticized the Austrian government for allowing an influx of refugees into the country. He defended the American president, saying, “I don’t think he’s as much of an idiot as he’s portrayed to be.”

Mateschitz also revealed his plan to launch a German-language news site called “Nä her an die Wahrheit,” which translates to “Closer to the Truth.” An article in the German newspaper Handelsblatt compared the venture to Breitbart.

Below, take a look at how Mateschitz has grown Red Bull into a leading international brand that stretches across platforms.


Mateschitz studied marketing at the University of Commerce in Vienna. He was in school for 10 years and graduated at 28. After school, Mateschitz served as the international marketing director for Blendax, where he worked on promoting toiletry products.

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Vienna
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Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

Source: Forbes


It was while he was traveling in Thailand for his job at Blendax that Mateschitz was introduced to a syrupy tonic drink that, according to Forbes, helped cure his jet lag.

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Kristian Dowling/Getty Images

Source: Forbes


Mateschitz met Chaleo Yoovidhya, a Thai man who owned his own tonic drink company. He convinced Yoovidhya to bring the drink to Europe, and Mateschitz quit his job. Each of the men invested $500,000 in the venture.

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Tim Whitby/Getty Images

Both of the founders owned 49% of the company (while Yoovidhya’s son, Vorayuth, owned the remaining 2%), but they agreed that Mateschitz would run it. By 1987 the drink was being shelved in Austria. Yoovidhya died at the age of 89 in 2012.

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Ben A. Pruchnie/GettyImages

Source: NPR


As Mateschitz continued to expand the market for Red Bull — launching in Hungary, the UK, Germany, and then finally in the US in 1997 — he focused on guerrilla marketing tactics.

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Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Branded events like Red Bull’s “Flugtag Day” had people competing in flying machines they had designed themselves …

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Participants of Red Bull’s Flugtag Day, Tel Aviv, 2003.
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Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images

… and, embraced by the extreme-sports community, Red Bull purchased a Formula One racing team to tie its brand name to in 2004.

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Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Source: BBC Sport


Red Bull also owns four soccer teams, including New York’s Red Bulls.

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Elsa/Getty Images

Source: Bloomberg


Just outside of Salzburg, Mateschitz owns an airplane complex called Hangar-7, which includes three restaurants on the property.

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Members of the Red Bull Racing Team chat before boarding the Red Bull Douglas DC-6B during a Red Bull Racing media flight to Hangar-7 in 2016.
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Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Source: Bloomberg


Mateschitz also owns a luxurious resort on the island of Laucala in Fiji. 25 villas are available to stay in, with private pools for each. Rates that include food, drinks, and activities can go up to nearly $10,000 a night.

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Laucala Island/Facebook

Source: Conde Nast Traveler


In 1998 the brand launched its still-running Red Bull Music Academy, which brings in musicians from various genres to participate in days of workshops, lectures, and live performances.

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Tabatha Fireman/Stringer Getty Images

Source: Time Out New York


In 2007, Red Bull launched its Media House, a subsidiary company that produced the “Red Bulletin,” a magazine focused on both arts and sports.

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Horizont Online reports that the team working on Mateschitz’s new media platform “Näher an die Wahrheit” include two Red Bull board members, as well as Austrian journalist Michael Fleischhacker and Judith Denkmayr, who previously worked on corporate development at Vice.

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Charles Coates/Getty Images

Source: Horizont Online


While some have speculated that Mateschitz’s new media platform — backed by his non-profit foundation, Quo Vadis Veritas — will be ideologically motivated because of the Red Bull cofounder’s public comments on politics, Red Bull Media House has told Business Insider, “Speculation that Quo Vadis Veritas will launch an ideologically motivated platform on behalf of Dietrich Mateschitz is simply wrong.”

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Mark Thompson/Getty Images

The statement continued: “The non-profit foundation – Quo Vadis Veritas – was established with the purpose of launching an independent multimedia investigative journalism platform. The platform and its employees will focus on research to only offer high quality journalism. This is to enable solid grounds for rational, well-informed debate. As work on this project only began in April 2017, the organizational structure, range of topics, design and features of the platform have not yet been finalized.”