The Founder of the company is Dietrich Mateschitz, an Austrian entrepreneur. Mateschitz was international marketing director for Blendax, a German toothpaste company, when he visited Thailand in 1982 and discovered that Krating Daeng, a Thai Energy Drink that originated in Japan, helped to cure his jet lag. Between 1984 and 1987, Mateschitz worked with TC Pharmaceutical (a Blendax licensee) to adapt Krating Daeng for European audiences. At the same time Mateschitz and Chaleo, the owner of Krating Daeng, founded Red Bull GmbH; each investing $500,000 of savings and taking a 49% stake in the new company. They gave the remaining 2% to Chaleo's son Chalerm, but it was agreed that Mateschitz would run the company. That left the Thais as silent partners. Red Bull GmbH launched the “Austrian” version of Red Bull in 1987, which is carbonated and not as sweet as the original Thai recipe. It is the Austrian formula that has taken almost half of the U.S. market for energy drinks, and up to 80% of the market in some other countries.
In 2006, Forbes Magazine listed Chaleo as being the 292nd richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of over $2.5 billion while Mateschitz was listed at number 317.
Initially, Red Bull distributed free cases of the drink to college students in an attempt at viral advertising. This strategy was wildly successful, resulting in the rapid proliferation of sales. Red Bull has since become known for its sleek marketing targeted at young urban professionals through various sports and entertainment based advertising campaigns. The current mottoes, "Red Bull Gives You Wings," and "No Red Bull, No Wings" are direct plays on the proposed stimulate properties of the beverage.
Red Bull has had a sponsorship presence in a number of sports for some time, especially in the world of motor sport, with the company having a presence in the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) especially the Abt Audi team, Dakar Rally sponsoring the VW Race Touareg Team, KTM Factory Motocross Team, Moto GP, British Superbike's (BSB) Red Bull Honda and HM Plant Red Bull Honda teams, World Rally Championship with the Skoda team run by Armin Schwarz, The SEAT team in the World Touring Car Championship, in Champ Car with Neel Jani and PKV Racing, Rhys Millen's Pontiac in Formula D, sponsoring the GP2 Series team owner by Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner, Arden International. The team previously sponsored the Sauber and Arrows Formula One teams, the Red Bull Cheever Racing Team in the IRL, and since 2007 Team Red Bull has competed in the NASCAR Nextel Cup. Also Red Bull is now sponsoring the Cyberathlete Professional League and its own air racing event called the Red Bull Air Race. Red Bull does not pay their athletes to wear or promote their logo. The 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, a competition for driverless cars, was won by a student team from Stanford. The Team's robotically driven Volkswagen Touareg "Stanley", was sponsored by Red Bull.
Red Bull also has sponsored various racing drivers including NASCAR driver Robby Gordon and Formula One drivers Christian Klien, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed. Red Bull is also sponsor to young Canadian racing prodigy Robert Wickens and teammate John Michael Edwards in the Champ Car Atlantic Series, as well as Moto GP riders Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa, American Superbike (AMA) riders Eric Bostrom, Ben Bostrom and Jake Zemke and British Superbike (BSB) riders Jonathan Rea, Eugene Laverty and Ryuchi Kiyonari. Red Bull is sponsoring two new NASCAR teams under 2007; racing under the new Toyota Camry label. Aside from that, its Thai unit and its Philippine partner has been responsible in forming, licensing, and funding the Red Bull Barako basketball team in the Philippine Basketball Association since 2000. It has become one of the most successful sports teams in the Philippines.
Red Bull has also extended its presence to purchasing and entirely re-branding a number of sports teams. These teams include the Red Bull Racing (previously Jaguar) and Scuderia Toro Rosso (Italian for Red Bull Team) (previously Minardi) Formula One teams. On April 6, 2005, Red Bull also bought the Austrian football club SV Austria Salzburg and renamed it to Red Bull Salzburg, a move which has been heavily criticised by supporter groups within Austria and across Europe. Salzburg's pro ice hockey team is named "The Red Bulls", and so is its farm team.
In 2005, Red Bull purchased the MetroStars, a soccer team in the United States league Major League Soccer based in New Jersey, from Anschutz Entertainment Group and renamed the franchise Red Bull New York.
In 2006, Team Red Bull debuted in the NASCAR Nextel Cup series at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The team, with Bill Elliott, failed to qualify for the race and the team didn't qualify for the two subsequent races they attempted with A.J. Allmendinger. The Red Bull-owned 2-car operation debuted on the full-time circuit in 2007 under the Toyota banner. Both cars, Allmendinger in the #84 and Brian Vickers in the #83, failed to qualify for the Daytona 500. Vickers, however, qualified for the race in California Speedway and posted the team's, and Toyota's, first top-10 in Nextel Cup competition.
The company uses numerous historic fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft in their promotions including: