The rags-to-riches billionaire who created the Red Bull energy drink and spawned a whole industry of similar caffeine-laced pick-me-ups died in his 80s in his home country, Thailand.


energy drink:能量饮料


Chaleo Yoovidhya was born in Thailand's Pichit province to a Chinese father and Thai mother who sold fruit and traded to make a living. By the time he died, though, Mr. Chaleo was the third-richest man in the country and ranked the world's 205th wealthiest man on this year's Forbes magazine list, with a net worth of around $5 billion.

 Scientifically minded, Mr. Chaleo formed a small firm, T.C. Pharmaceuticals, in the 1960s and began tinkering with a formula for an energy-boosting drink. Around a decade later, he came up with his recipe for Krathing Daeng, or Red Bull in English. Pepped up with generous servings of caffeine, vitamins, sucrose and other energy-boosting ingredients, the drink was a hit among the truck drivers and construction workers who helped propel Thailand's rapid economic boom of the 1970s and '80s.

tinker with:修复

formula:[数] 公式,准则;配方

The Bangkok-based Nation newspaper recently interviewed one of Mr. Chaleo's sons, Saravudh, about his reclusive father's success -- and how he turned the usual business model in Thailand on its head. Instead of focusing on Bangkok, the capital, Mr. Saravudh recalled how Mr. Chaleo instead 'pushed into the provincial market first, gaining a foothold by distributing free samples to truck drivers.'


gain a foothold:站稳脚跟,取得立足点

'I never heard words like 'difficult' or 'impossible' from my father. He dedicated his life to his work and never complained when he was tired,' Mr. Saravudh said.
It wasn't until Mr. Chaleo met Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz that the rest of the world would hear of his concoction, though.

A toothpaste salesman, Mr. Mateschitz stumbled across Red Bull as a handy cure for jet lag during his frequent business trips to Thailand.

stumble across:偶然发现

The two men then joined forces to market the drink internationally in the 1980s, each owning 49% of a new firm, Red Bull GmbH.

join forces:协力;团结

Mr. Mateschitz changed the recipe slightly to appeal to a Western market, and then set about finding novel ways to market the drink. One initial tactic was to convince students to tool about in fashionable Mini and Beetle cars with a large, blue-and-silver Red Bull can attached to the top. Mr. Mateschitz also threw various parties with unusual themes to develop word-of-mouth buzz about the drink.

Mr. Mateschitz set out to associate the Red Bull brand with a new generation of extreme sports such as motocross and snowboarding. The company also sponsored a contest for people who wanted to build their own flying machines and then attempt to launch them down a ramp and out over a lake, before going on to sponsor a Red Bull team on the Formula 1 motor-racing circuit and the U.S.-based soccer team, the New York Red Bulls.

Mr. Chaleo, though, preferred to keep a lower profile than the showman-like Mr. Mateschitz. From time to time he would sit on health committees in Thailand and advise top politicians, but was careful to keep out of the media gaze.

According to The Nation article with his son, Mr. Saravudh, Mr. Chaleo hadn't given an interview or made a public appearance in 30 years. State-run broadcaster MCOT said he died in Bangkok on Saturday due to natural causes. His date of birth couldn't be confirmed.