A man who runs his business based on the principle, "if someone is an idiot, you should call him an idiot," Dietrich Mateschitz made his millions in the soft drinks industry with his energy drink brand, Red Bull.
Mateschitz enjoyed the student life for ten years in Vienna before moving into marketing. In the early 80s he traveled extensively while working for toothpaste brand Blendax. It was on a business trip to Thailand that he discovered a herbal remedy for jet lag named Krating Daeng, or 'red water buffalo'. In 1984 he quit his job and founded Red Bull with Thai partner Chaleo Yoovidhya, each investing $500,000 savings. They launched the energy drink Red Bull in 1987 which now enjoys an annual turnover of 3.3 billion euros and a 40% share of the market.
Mateschitz's involvement in F1 began in the late 1980s when Red Bull sponsored driver Gerhard Berger. Renowned as a marketing specialist, Red Bull's strategy was markedly different from rival soft drinks companies; instead of shelling out for celebrity endorsements and traditional advertising, the brand focused on sponsoring sporting events and athletes, particularly focusing on motoring and extreme sports.
In 1995 Red Bull joined forces with Sauber and owned a 51% stake in Red Bull Sauber Holding. The deal struck meant team principal Peter Sauber retained control over the team, while Mateschitz was able to promote his brand. He sold his shares in 2002 and in 2004 he bought Jaguar Racing and rebranded the team Red Bull Racing. In 2005 he bought the Italian team Minardi with fellow Austrian Berger, which they named Scuderia Toro Rosso. As well as owning numerous sports teams around the world, Red Bull established a young driver programme 2002 which saw graduates such as Scott Speed, Sebastian Vettel and more recently Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari.
Named Man of the Year by Austrian magazine Trend in 2000, Mateschitz avoids the public eye and rarely attends race days to avoid the cameras, preferring to watch the races on TV. He even purchased Austrian society magazine, Seitenblicke, in order to ensure that he wouldn't appear in it. As well as his sporting interests, he holds his pilots license and owns a collection of historic aircraft known as the Flying Bulls, as well as a Fijian island.
Jo Carter November 2009