The Life of Chaleo Yoovidhya: Inventor of Red Bull

On this day, August 17 in the year 1923, the inventor of energy drink Red Bull was born in Pichit, Thailand. His name was Chaleo Yoovidhya, the patriarch of one of the richest families in Southeast Asia.

Chaleo Yoovidhya
Chaleo Yoovidhya (Credit:

Chaleo Yoovidhya was the third of five children who was born into a Chinese immigrant farmer in the central region of Thailand. With little formal education, he moved to Bangkok to be an antibiotics salesman of his elder brother’s chemical business. Meanwhile, he learned the ropes of importing and mixing chemicals. In the early 1960s, he set up his own company called TC Pharmaceuticals. Then in 1976, he stumbled on a recipe for a highly caffeinated energy drink which he called Krating Daeng (Red Bull). Using unconventional advertising, he promoted the drink first among laborers and drivers.

In 1984, Chaleo Yoovidhya struck a deal with Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz who discovered that the drink cured his jet lag. They formed the company Red Bull Gmbh with each putting up $500,000 for a 49% stake while Chaleo’s eldest son Chalerm owning the remaining 2%. At present, the company is headquartered in Austria. The product is distributed worldwide and controls more than 85% of the global market for energy drink.

In 2012, the reclusive Chaleo died at the age of 90. At the time of his death, his net worth was estimated at $5 billion. He married twice and had 11 children. The family has now diversified into the health and hospitality industry.



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