He gave us wings … and a caffeine buzz that keeps us up ’til the wee hours.
Chaleo Yoovidhya, the Thai entrepreneur who became a billionaire by developing the popular energy drink Red Bull, died on Saturday of natural causes at the age of 89.
Chaleo’s company, T.C. Pharmaceuticals, began producing Krathing Daeng – in Thai meaning “red bull” – in the 1970s. The product, which quickly became a hit among truck drivers who needed to stay awake on the road and factory shift workers, was discovered in 1982 by Dietrich Mateschitz, an Austrian who was working for a consumer goods company.
Mateschitz collaborated with Chaleo and his son Chalerm Yoovidhya to introduce the drink to a global audience. Red Bull was launched in 1984 and is now sold in 160 countries worldwide with annual sales of $5 billion, UK’s The Telegraph reported.
Chaleo was listed by Forbes magazine as the third-wealthiest man in Thailand and the 205th wealthiest man in the world.
In addition to Red Bull, Chaleo had controlling interest in the Piyavate Hospital chain and the Siam Winery, the Post said. In Chaleo’s passing, Chalerm now runs Red Bull as well as the family-owned wine business.
Includding Chalerm, Chaleo Yoovidhya is survived by 11 children, five from his first wife and six from his second.