Red Bull president and CEO Dietrich Mateschitz, a man who co-founded an energy drink company that would eventually become one of the world’s largest sports empires, has died, his company confirmed Saturday. He was 78.
Born in Austria in 1944, Mateschitz founded Red Bull GmbH alongside Thai businessman Chaleo Yoovidhya in 1984. The brand would become the top energy drink company in the world, with Mateschitz owning 49 percent of the company.
Long known for aggressive and innovative marketing, Mateschitz’s Red Bull found a novel way to get its name and logo in front of as many people as possible: buy and rename sports teams, specifically in soccer and auto racing.
The company first made its presence known in Formula 1 with a sponsorship deal with Sauber in 1995 after Mateschitz purchased a majority share in the team, but it became a true power player when it purchased the Jaguar team in 2004 and transformed it into Red Bull Racing. The team has since won six Formula 1 Drivers Championships — four by Sebastian Vettel and two by Max Verstappen — and four Constructors’ Championships.
Meanwhile, Red Bull moved into soccer with its controversial purchase of SV Austria Salzburg, turning it into Red Bull Salzburg. It would not be the last league Red Bull bought into, nor its last controversial move.
Red Bull’s sports holdings now include the following:
RB Leipzig (German Bundersliga)
FC Red Bull Salzburg (Austrian Bundesliga) and its reserve team
New York Red Bulls (Major League Soccer) and its reserve teams
Red Bull Bragantino (Brazilian Série A) and its reserve team
That’s all in addition to Red Bull’s prodigious sponsorship of various extreme sports and stunt events.
Much of that is attributable to Mateschitz’s leadership. As Formula 1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali said in a release:
“I am deeply saddened by the news that Dietrich Mateschitz, a hugely respected and much-loved member of the Formula 1 family has passed away.
“He was an incredible visionary entrepreneur and a man who helped to transform our sport and created the Red Bull brand that is known all around the world.
“I will miss him greatly, as will the whole community in Formula 1, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and the Red Bull and AlphaTauri teams at this very sad time.”