Dietrich Mateschitz


May 20, 1944

Born in St Marein im Murztal in the Styrian region of Austria, Mateschitz was a slow starter in business. It took him 10 years to get through college as he changed his mind several times before settling on marketing as a career. A graduate of the University of Commerce in Vienna he then went to work for a variety of German companies before in 1979 becoming marketing director for Blendax, a German firm that produced toothpaste, skin creams and shampoo. His job took him often to Asia where he discovered a local tonic drink, which he liked and which revived him when he was suffering from jetlag. By chance the Blendax licensee in Thailand, Chaleo Yoovidhya, also owned a tonic drink company and the two men decided to see whether the drink could be sold in Europe. In 1984 the two men went into business and each took a 49% share in the business. The other two percent were owned by Yoovidhya's son Chalerm. The drink was named Red Bull and launched in Austria in 1987. Growth was slow but by 1994 the company was gathering momentum and decided to raise its profile by becoming the owner and sponsor of the Sauber F1 team. The company always avoided traditional advertising, preferring to use word of mouth and sponsorships to push the firm's unconventional image. Red Bull entered the US market in 1997 and continues to grow at a rapid pace, making Mateschitz one of the richest men in Europe.

Red Bull and Sauber fell out in 2000 over the choice of driver for 2001 with Peter Sauber insisting on the unknown Kimi Raikkonen and Mateschitz wanting Enrique Bernoldi. History proved that Sauber was right in his choice although Mateschitz went on to pay for Bernoldi's drive at Arrows. The result of the fight was that Red Bull sold the shares in Sauber to Credit Suisse but after considering buying Arrows, decided to wait and continued to sponsor Sauber until the end of 2004 when Mateschitz acquired Jaguar Racing from the Ford Motor Company. He hired David Coulthard and quickly signed an engine deal to use Ferrari engines in 2006. In the course of 2005 he also acquired the Minardi team and turned it into Scuderia Toro Rosso.