In 1976, Chaleo Yoovidhya introduced a drink called Krating Daeng in Thailand, which means "red gaur" in English. It was popular among Thai truck drivers and labourers. While working for German manufacturer Blendax (later acquired by Procter & Gamble) in 1982, Dietrich Mateschitz traveled to Thailand and met Chaleo, owner of T.C. Pharmaceutical. During his visit, Mateschitz discovered that Krating Daeng helped cure his jet lag. In 1984, Mateschitz co-founded Red Bull GmbH with Yoovidhya and turned it into an international brand. Each partner invested US$500,000 of savings to found the company. Yoovidhya and Mateschitz each held a 49 percent share of the new company. They gave the remaining two percent to Yoovidhya's son, Chalerm, but it was agreed that Mateschitz would run the company. The product was launched in Austria in 1987.
In Thailand, energy drinks are most popular with blue-collar workers. Red Bull repositioned the drink as a trendy, upscale drink, first introducing it at Austrian ski resorts. Pricing was a key differentiator, with Red Bull positioned as a premium drink and Krating Daeng as a lower cost item. In many countries both drinks are available, dominating each end of the price spectrum.
In 1992, the product expanded to international markets: Hungary and Slovenia. It entered the United States via California in 1997 and the Middle East in 2000. In 2008, Forbes magazine listed both Chaleo and Mateschitz as the 250th richest people in the world with an estimated net worth of US$4 billion.
Red Bull GmbH is headquartered in Fuschl am See, an Austrian village of about 1,500 inhabitants near Salzburg. The company is 51 percent controlled by the Yoovidhya family, who for technical reasons own the trademark in Europe and the US.
In Southeast Asia, Red Bull and Krating Daeng are often confused for one another as Krating Daeng uses the Red Bull name in their packaging. They are two separate entities marketing for different markets. The main differences are that Red Bull is in a blue silver tall can packaging while the Thailand Red Bull or Krating Daeng is in a smaller gold packaging. They differ in terms of tastes as well. Red Bull has less sugar and is carbonated. The flavouring used for Red Bull is still produced in Bangkok and exported worldwide.