Have you ever given more thought to Red Bull, other than the effect is has on your system every time you pop open a can?
Well, it has a pretty darn interesting history.
Here’s how the energy drink company started, from Wikipedia:
Red Bull is an energy drink sold by Austrian company Red Bull GmbH, created in 1987. In terms of market share, Red Bull is the highest-selling energy drink in the world, with 5.387 billion cans sold in 2013.
Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz was inspired by an existing energy drink named Krating Daeng, which was first introduced and sold in Thailand by Chaleo Yoovidhya. He took this idea, modified the ingredients to suit the tastes of Westerners, and, in partnership with Chaleo, founded Red Bull GmbH in 1987 in Chakkapong, Thailand.
In Thai, daeng means red, and krating is the large bovine called “gaur” in English. Red Bull is sold in a tall and slim blue-silver can, while Krating Daeng is in a shorter gold can. The two are different products, produced separately.
Other than a list of names and a few photographs of them at motor-racing rallies, there’s not much known about the Thai dynasty, which holds 51% of shares in the energy drink brand.
But here’s what we do know:
There are 10 members of Yoovidhya family, and their names and figures go something like this:
This, from Bloomberg:
Chaleo, who died in 2012, established closely held T.C. Pharmaceutical Industries Co. in 1956 to sell antibiotics. He later pivoted to energy tonics, and in 1975 invented a drink made with caffeine, sugar, and the amino acid, taurine, that he called Krating Daeng, or “red bull” in Thai.
Ten Yoovidhya family members share 49 percent of Red Bull GmbH while Chalerm Yoovidhya, the patriarch’s eldest son, owns another 2 percent, according to Orbis, a database of closely held companies published by Bureau van Dijk, and corporate filings from the Hong Kong Companies Registry. The remaining 49 percent is held by Mateschitz.
Seven members of the Yoovidhya family also own T.C. Pharmaceutical, which controls 51 percent of Red Bull China, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing private holdings.
Compared to other energy-drink holding companies, the Yoovidhya family have done particularly well and their strong links to extreme sports have only helped them hit the top.
Here’s what a comparative graph looks like:
So why are the Yoovidhyas so hard to spot flaunting their wealth in the public eye? Well, it’s all because of Chaleo:
The Yoovidhyas, the only billionaires of the group who aren’t founders, have kept the no-limelight approach favoured by the patriarch, a devout Buddhist who was said to prefer spending his free time running the family duck farm. In three decades at the helm of T.C. Pharmaceutical, the billionaire never gave an interview nor made any public appearances, according to a Thai daily, The Nation.
Interesting, right? I would never have thought.
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