Chaleo Yoovidhya, the second richest man in Thailand, died of natural causes in a Bangkok hospital at the age of 89 on Saturday. Chaleo’s claim to fame is the creation of the energy drink Red Bull, known for being the first energy drink to win over consumers across the globe.
According to Forbes, in 2011 Chaleo’s net worth exceeded $5 billion. Not bad for a man born into a poor Sino-Thai family who made their living from duck farming and fruit trading.
Red Bull was founded in 1984 by Chaleo and Austrian marketing genius Dietrich Mateschitz, who had first become aware of the drink while traveling in Asia. In 1987 they started selling Red Bull in Austria and proceeded to take the brand global. Red Bull is now sold in more than 70 countries worldwide.
The pair each owned 49 percent of the company, with Chaleo’s son Chalerm holding the remaining two percent.
His funeral is being preceded by bathing rites, a Thai Buddhist tradition before cremation, sponsored by Thailand’s royal family, a high honor for someone not born into the aristocracy.