Red Bull is a beverage maker known for its eponymous energy drink and is headquartered in Fuschl am See in Salzburg, Austria. It is majority controlled by Thailand’s Yoovidhya family, which invented the drink decades ago. Owing to the success of the Red Bull brand, the Yoovidhya family is one of the richest among Asian business families by net worth and their earnings have been growing year on year.
Red Bull is one of the world’s most famous soft-drink brands, producing sugar-free drinks, zero-calorie versions, and special-edition drinks in watermelon, tropical and acai berry flavours. But the brand is the world leader in the energy drinks market, of which it controls 25 per cent in the world.
Though the exact details of how Red Bull makes its money is unknown, it has a massive dominance over the energy drinks market that has primarily contributed to the income of the Yoovidhya family as well as that of the brand’s Austrian co-founder, the late Dietrich Mateschitz.
Despite being majority owners of the brand, the Yoovidhya family isn’t involved in the day-to-day running of Red Bull. Mateschitz was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Red Bull till his death in October 2022. He was succeeded by a board of directors led by three top bosses — Franz Watzlawick (CEO beverage business), Oliver Mintzlaff (CEO of corporate projects and investments) and Alexander Kirchmayr (Chief Financial Officer).
The majority ownership has helped the Yoovidhya family add millions of dollars to their net worth every year. In fact, Bloomberg reported in March 2023 to Red Bull’s growing market, the family added USD 7.8 billion of earnings to their net worth since January 2022. The growth was the highest for any Asian business family.
History of Red Bull and the net worth and earnings of the Yoovidhya family
How was Red Bull formed?
The company’s origins go back to 1976 in Thailand. Chaleo Yoovidhya, who founded T.C. Pharma (TCP) in 1956, began selling the caffeine-heavy syrupy energy drink in 1976 under the name Krating Daeng. While ‘Daeng’ means red in Thai, ‘Krating’ is the Thai name for gaur, a species of bison found in the Indian subcontinent. Following its launch, the drink became very popular among the working class in Thailand.
Dietrich Mateschitz tried Krating Daeng on a marketing-related trip to the country and found that it cured his jet lag. Recognising the potential of the drink in the Western world, Mateschitz then approached Yoovidhya for permission to create a carbonated version of the drink and expand the product globally by forming a distinct company in Austria. Yoovidhya agreed and thus was born Red Bull GmbH in 1984. The drink was officially launched on 1 April 1987.
What makes Red Bull so popular?
Red Bull’s innovative marketing campaign resulted in the immense popularity of the brand across Europe into markets in the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, Africa as well as Asia-Pacific.
In fact, experts have noted over the years that one of the major reasons behind the brand’s phenomenal success is its pioneering marketing strategy, wherein, as Mateschitz himself told The Economist in 2002, they “don’t bring the product to the people, we bring people to the product.”
Outside of its core business, the Red Bull brand and its instantly recognisable logo of two fighting bulls can be seen at extreme sports events. The company sponsors everything from cliff diving and mountain biking competitions to aerobatic flying. Traditional sports such as ice hockey and professional athletes in other sports, including cricket, are also supported by Red Bull.
One of its biggest global exposures came from the Red Bull Stratos project in which Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner broke several world records by jumping from the edge of space in 2012. According to a 2022 report by Bloomberg, the jump cost “tens of millions of dollars but was worth every cent in brand exposure” for the brand.
According to the report, the company spent around a quarter of its annual revenue, or over USD 1.7 billion, on sponsorships and advertising in 2020.
The company also owns several sports teams across motorsports and association football. The most famous of these is Red Bull Racing, the Formula 1 team which has won the Constructors’ Championship five times and the Drivers’ Championship six times, including the two of current F1 champion Max Verstappen.
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Among the many football teams that Red Bull owns, the prominent ones are Austrian Bundesliga champions FC Red Bull Salzburg, Major League Soccer (MLS) team New York Red Bulls and Bundesliga giant RB Leipzig whose home ground is the city’s Red Bull Arena.
Red Bull also has a presence in the media, with its own online streaming TV channel and record label Red Bull Records. The company also holds a 50 per cent stake in Berger Logistik, an Austrian transport company.
The energy drinks business
Even though how the company makes money is not known, a large part of its wealth comes from the energy drink which contains a combination of caffeine, sugars, taurine, Alpine water and B-group vitamins.
Owing to the current advertising slogan “Red Bull Gives You Wings,” Red Bull sold 7.5 billion cans worldwide in 2019 and had a presence in 171 countries with over 12,000 employees.
Two years later, the company sold 9.8 billion cans worldwide at a time when the pandemic had brought many businesses around the world to their knees. Its annual revenue then amounted to around USD 8 billion — a jump of 24 per cent year on year and over 10 times its revenue in 2000.
Bloomberg reports that the company sold over 11 billion energy drink cans in 2022 and earned USD 10.2 billion in revenue, indicating that the global demand for energy drinks is not only extremely high but also that Red Bull is an undisputed leader in the segment. The employee count has also risen to over 15,500.
The reason behind this success could be the penchant of people for energy drinks. Simon Chadwick, professor of sport and geopolitical economy at Skema Business School in Paris, told Bloomberg, “Energy drinks have become synonymous with an active lifestyle.” He added that those who work long hours “will require energy drinks.”
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Who owns how much at Red Bull, and what are their net worth and earnings?
Both Yoovidhya and Mateschitz poured USD 500,000 each to create the new company and sell its drinks. As per their agreement, the Yoovidhya family and Mateschitz each held 49 per cent of Red Bull. The remaining two per cent went to Chalerm Yoovidhya, the oldest of Chaleo Yoovidhya’s 11 children.
When Mateschitz passed away, his son Mark Mateschitz inherited his entire stake and almost instantly reached USD 15.7 billion in net worth as per Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index. As of March 2023, Mark has a net worth of over USD 20 billion. His father owned Austrian castles and villas, a property in London, an island in Fiji, and a collection of vintage planes stationed at Red Bull’s Hangar-7 complex at Salzburg airport.
On the other hand, the family of Chaleo Yoovidhya, who passed away in 2012, has always held a controlling stake of 51 per cent, including Chalerm Yoovidhya’s share.
As per Bloomberg, the net worth of Chalerm Yoovidhya and his family stood at USD 27 billion as of March 2023.
Expensive things that Chalerm Yoovidhya and his family own
Although not much is known about how the Yoovidhya family spends its wealth, Forbes says that Chalerm Yoovidhya owns a vineyard named Siam Winery in Thailand. It was founded by him in 1986. He also has a chalet at Mount Niseko Annupuri, a ski resort area in Japan.
Jiravat Yoovidhya, one of the 11 children of Chaleo Yoovidhya, and his wife, Supatra, reportedly bought a 130-year-old Georgian row house in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighbourhood for USD 7.5 million. It is not known if they still own the property.
Reports suggest that Chalerm Yoovidhya and members of the family have at least five prime properties in London.
On the other hand, TCP is led by Saravoot, Chaleo’s son with his second wife. According to Bloomberg, all the directors of the company are members of the family. All shares are owned by the family, but no member of the third generation is involved in the business.
(Main and Featured images: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
This story first appeared in Lifestyle Asia Bangkok
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: Thailand’s Yoovidhya family owns 51 per cent of Red Bull GmbH.
Answer: Most of Red Bull is owned by the Yoovidhya family.
Answer: In 2021, the company earned USD 8 billion from sales of 9.8 billion cans alone. Red Bull sold over 11 billion cans in 2022, earning USD 10.2 billion.
Answer: According to research by 'Statista', Red Bull's brand value was USD 18.5 billion dollars in 2022.