The hills are alive
Picture this idyllic, pastoral scene in Austria: quaint half-timbered houses gathered neatly around a lake, which is surrounded by rolling green hills and the occasional clump of forest. In the village, everything is immaculately ordered. The local people – some wearing apparel that looks suspiciously like lederhosen – greet each other politely with a discreet ‘gruss got’ before carrying on serenely with their everyday business.
Then there is an ultra-modern glass and chrome temple in the middle of it all; absolutely incongruous but designed to blend in with the countryside at the same time. The village is Fuschl-am-See, around half an hour east of Salzburg, and the temple is Red Bull’s headquarters: a company that has shaken up the staid image of Austria as much as its flagship building has made its mark on the sleepy village of Fuschl.
One of the just 1,406 inhabitants of the place is Dietrich Mateschitz: the billionaire founder of Red Bull, who – despite his global empire – doesn’t believe in having a long commute to work. The story of how he founded the company has passed into legend. While on a business trip to Thailand in the early 1980s, he asked some Thai lorry drivers at a truck stop for directions and noticed they were all drinking something called ‘Krating Daeng’: a drink designed to stimulate them for the long hours on the road. Krating Daeng is the Thai for ‘Red Bull’ – and an idea was born. By 1984, Mateschitz had scraped together some cash (which was a considerable struggle) and founded Red Bull GmbH.