Thai Billionaire Behind Red Bull Dead at 89
Chaleo Yoovidhya's parents sold ducks, fruit to survive
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2012 3:30 PM CDT
In this undated photo, Thai billionaire Chaleo Yoovidhya is shown.   (AP Photo/Matichon Newspaper)

(Newser) – The Thai billionaire who sparked the worldwide "energy drink" craze and co-founded Red Bull has died of natural causes in Bangkok, the AP reports. Chaleo Yoovidhya was 89. Born to a Thai mother and Chinese father who sold ducks and fruit to survive, Chaelo died as Thailand's third-richest man. He founded TC Pharmaceuticals in the 1960s and created an energy drink a decade later called Krathing Daeng, which translates roughly as Red Bull. (The "bull" is actually a near-extinct, cattle-like animal, reports the Bangkok Post.)

The drink was popular mostly with Thai blue-collar workers until Chaleo and Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz released their own version of Red Bull in 1987, starting an international business that still sells billions of drinks annually. According to a daily paper in Thailand, Chaleo "will be remembered as a business and marketing genius who put the Thai energy drink on the global map."