Energy drink company Red Bull’s co-founder, Dietrich Mateschitz, died on Saturday at age 78.
Red Bull Formula One team confirmed the death of the Austrian billionaire, who had been diagnosed with a serious type of cancer.
Mr. Mateschitz became the richest man in Austria and the 51st in the world, with a fortune estimated at around 24.65 billion dollars.
The self-made billionaire businessman built a global empire around the successful drink Red Bull and was considered by many to be a marketing genius.
After graduating from the University of World Trade in Vienna, Mr. Mateschitz worked as a marketing specialist for various companies in the 1970s. Later, he got to know the market for energy and stimulant drinks, which was little exploited in Europe and the United States at the time, during a business trip to Asia.
In 1984, after acquiring the license to produce the drink in Asia, he founded Red Bull alongside the wealthy Thai family Yoovidhya, keeping a 49% stake.
The sweet, carbonated drink, born from another Thai beverage recipe, was finally introduced to the market three years later.
Although its entry into the market was difficult, Red Bull became the world’s leading beverage on the market.
The Fuschl am See, Salzburg-based company managed to turn over 7.7 billion dollars last year after selling 9.8 billion cans of Red Bull worldwide.
Its success is attributed to a clever marketing campaign, with the world-renowned slogan “Red Bull gives you wings.”
Over the years, Mr. Mateschitz worked on the drink’s image, associating the brand with adventure sports, such as cliff diving, mountain biking, and surfing.
Later, Red Bull became the official sponsor of many athletes in such categories.
Mr. Mateschitz is also known for founding the UK-based Formula One racing team Red Bull Racing and taking over the Red Bull Salzburg football club, formerly the SV Austria Salzburg.
The Austrian billionaire was always very secretive about his private life and rarely gave interviews.
It is unclear who will inherit the Red Bull empire after his death, but his only 30-year-old son Mark is expected to be his successor. He previously served as managing director of Mr. Mateschitz’s investment companies.