Red Bull CEO Dietrich Mateschitz is not only a fan of Team Trump, he’s also against refugees being in Austria. What to do with all those thoughts? It seems a news-media entity’s in Matschitz’s near future.
Over the years, what started as an Austria-based, energy-drink entity grew to include the Red Bull Music Academy (est. 1998), radio presence, an exhibition property in New York City and a Detroit-based artist-in-residence effort—nothing short of amazing. Recently, upon a discovering interview, Mr. Mateschitz is apparently pursuing a Republican-news endeavor—some say it’s comparable to Breitbart.
When Mateschitz sat down with Austria’s Kleine Zeitung for an early April conversation. During the exchange, he expressed his feelings against Germany and Austria being too sympathetic toward refugees. He’s also not a fan of “intellectual elites” and political correctness. The biggest declaration Mateschitz made was his media-entity effort, Näher an die Wahrheit (“Closer to the Truth”). This “research platform” will run separately from Red Bull—a totally independent company.
When talking to The FADER, a Red Bull representative said, “Mr. Mateschitz gave a personal interview—published on April 8th, 2017. Our company values freedom of mind and encourages open conversation.”
While Mateschitz’s new effort is still in the works, some are skeptical of his political stances. German publication Handelsblatt availed the Red Bull captain’s new project compared its forthcoming structure to Breitbart. While the Mateschitz interview hasn’t hit a lot of English-speaking publications, Breitbart featured their interview assessment and entitled it “Red Bull Boss Slams Mass Migration, Forced Multiculturalism.”
Kleine Zeitung had the details (translation via Google):
Kleine Zeitung: “The ‘Forbes’ magazine confirmed you these days as the richest Austrian. Their assets thus increased to 12.6 billion euros. Does this have any meaning for you? Is it a measure of success, for a successful life?
Dietrich Mateschitz: Just as you love such statistics and publications, so much I love them—like the devil the holy water. Such rankings are not good for anything. Pity about the paper.
KZ: They are annoyed.
DM: I’m not annoyed. But the success that is portrayed is, in fact, irrelevant, is never realized by a normal, human being—thank God. One does not found a company with the aim to get a ‘Forbes’ list. One has ideas that one tries to realize. When people read such sums, imagine that you are sitting there with your 11-or-more billions like Dagobert Duck on his Golddukatenspeicher. This is, of course, complete nonsense.
KZ: It is for you, therefore, only materialized property, but it is not fictional.
DM: That’s the way it is. Only with the more-than-theoretical sale of the company would a new responsibility arise—precisely the right disposition. So, my responsibility to pay a few-hundred-million taxes is responsible for 12,000 employees, that we are going to be Formula 1 world champions again and want to be successful in football and many other areas, that we have no mistakes in marketing and financing—make long-term and properly plan and so on and so forth. This means money is only the equivalent of necessary investments, acquisitions, services. It’s just on paper.
KZ: Not only. They have airplanes, helicopters and an island in the South Seas.
DM: I am only aware of this when someone asks me about it. It is already right that I have a soft spot for beautiful, unique places—to please me but also to take care of it. And of course I have a passion for flying.
KZ: Are you taxing your entire assets in Austria?
DM: In gray times, I once said sloppily, I would be glad if I would pay as much tax, because then half would still belong to me. It is not quite half, but I am self-employed and almost like to live in Austria. We also do not belong to the companies that use a dozen constructs for tax savings. We have no purchasing company in Hong Kong, no trademark registration in the Cayman Islands, nothing in Panama or wherever. The world income is taxed here in Austria. The more critical it is to look at how the tax is evaded.
KZ: How do you deal with this?
DM: On the whole, wrong—and in many areas. In spite of one of the highest tax rates, we have incredible, government debt and are increasing it instead of reducing it. I have grown old-fashioned. My mom said to me: ‘debt is debt, and debt is not made!’
KZ: Economists would argue that the economic nonsense is.
DM: I know what is taught at universities: two-thirds borrowed capital, one-third equity. But now let the turnover in December be slightly lower and the interest rates rise slightly in parallel, and you already have more than one problem. You also invest the money you earn but not the money you might earn. We have this year the Red Bull, and we have never had bank debts except for the sales financing. We adjusted the cash flow of the Red Bull worldwide.
KZ: what is your goal? Profit maximization?
DM: Maximizing profit as the ultimate goal of the company: this is also taught in the universities. I think this is not true either. Everything can be maximized—creativity, innovation, intelligence, everything (but not profit). It is only through the maximization of all that is intellectual, good, creative and meaningful that the gain comes. As a result, you cannot maximize a profit. This is my deep conviction.
KZ: In the previous year, Red Bull has produced more than six-billion cans and has implemented over six-billion euros for the first time. What else do you want to maximize?
DM: There are plenty of growth reserves. We still have many countries with an annual per-capita consumption of three, four doses. In Austria, there are 24 doses—in Switzerland, 23. Our very first users 30 years ago were 18 then and are now 48—in the prime of their lives. And now the new users are coming—without losing the old ones.
KZ: Their most important market is America—where you deposit almost half of the six-billion cans. What do you do if Donald Trump suddenly wants 20 percent import tax from you?
DM: Punitive and import duties were already invented by other presidents—not just American ones. This does not need a trump. But I do not believe it will happen, and if so, we also produce in Switzerland—outside the EU. We can also pay the 20 percent, distribute no dividends and invest less. Or we could move production to America in the short-to-medium term. It is important that nothing happens, which can surprise us. That’s why we’re going through all the scenarios every month.
KZ: What do you think of Trump?
DM: I do not think he’s such an idiot as [they say]. When talking to Americans, it is often heard that they are always glad that there is a new administration. The former one has more than questioned in many respects. And “different” it is now undoubtedly.
KZ: Is this already a positive category? Many are shocked by Trump’s erratic lewdness.
DM: This is a question, of course. But above all, I consider the current hysteria to be ridiculous. Just because something is outside your own ideology? The bad thing about democracy is that the majority is not always right. The good thing is that the insane is correctable—that everyone can be desponded just as quickly as he was chosen. You should give Trump time.
KZ: Where can you follow him?
DM: I simply do not believe he ever really thought about building a few miles of fence [along the US-Mexico border]. Many things are also wrongly criticized—as the attempted dialogue with Russia. It does not make sense to try an economic boycott to ruin a country like Russia—and not least with the help of the EU. Above all, this also means a loss in billions for Europe as a whole. Russia is a part of Europe, and what else, if no beginning dialogue, should be effective? But the opinion of the politically correct says: Russia is a rogue state, the evil par excellence and we are the good. And everyone who does not see this is wrong. Then, too, it quickly closes with freedom of expression, for it is only granted, as long as you have the same opinion as you. I do not need anyone to tell me who my enemies are.
KZ: Who is ‘she’? [Possibly a mistranslation via Google.]
DM: The policy of political correctness and a self-proclaimed, so-called intellectual elite, in which, with the best will, neither a major economic or political contribution to our country can be recognized.
KZ: They are also elite.
DM: I am humanist, cosmopolitan, pacifist and individualist. And I am someone who basically opposes every opinion. No matter where it comes from. Even if one is immediately suspicious in all directions: in America, one is stamped as a communist; in Europe…a conspiracy theorist or right-wing populist.
KZ: What is really bothering you?
DM: For example, the unpardonable extent of political misjudgments and misjudgments in the non-coping of the refugee wave—or rather the immigration wave. I do not believe it was a clear expression of political will to open the boundaries uncontrollably. People have been so decided for fear and political opportunity. Even then, it was clear to everyone that most of the people did not correspond to the definition of the refugee. In any case, not the Geneva Convention.
KZ: Is it not polemical and inexpensive to condemn today’s action with the knowledge of today? One was overwhelmed by the images and the dimension of the stranded.
DM: No. From the beginning, you have to decide rightly and foremost. If a company were to make mistakes of this scope, it would soon be broke. How could politics have been surprised? You must be blind and deaf to not see what is coming. And, of course, one would have had to close the boundaries and control them properly—no question at all. Do you remember how much you criticized the Eastern European states for their attitude at the beginning? A few months later, our politicians have done the same thing. The only difference is that one has searched for fence in the Duden for another word.
KZ: They ignore the fact that the current government has undertaken a radical, paradigm shift and offers a red-and-black catwalk, who is driving the more restrictive course.
DM: That was expected. Because it is now about the maintenance of the political parties, before the last ten or fifteen percent of the citizens also run away. Ideological value has none.
KZ: You might be glad that it happened out of sober reason and not ideological.
DM: Ideally, the one does not exclude the other. The bottom line must be correct solutions and above all, nobody can or should not be interested in destabilizing Europe—in the uniqueness of our diversity, individuality, different cultures, languages. If one of the highest officials in Brussels says that countries with monocultures belong to the map, then I hope not only I worry. But it seems that no one can trust the truth anymore—even if everyone knows that it is the truth.
KZ: Who does not dare?
DM: The majority. I know hosts, who have defended themselves against the Kassapflicht on pastures or the labeling requirements on the menu. Most of them have stopped again because they have received extraordinary, tax audits and visits from the Food Authority. They want the indifferent, uncritical and frightened citizen. Metternich was a teacher against what happened today. The most basic of all human rights is that of self-responsibility, and they take it from you. They manipulate, regulate, monitor, control. And the glass man is just as much a nightmare as the dictatorship. Now you want to abolish the cash! Whom is it interesting to know what and where I ate or what I give to my family and friends for Christmas?
KZ: They talk like a ruffian.
DM: I talk about facts, and I talk about hypocrisies. I am talking about the fact that none of those who called “Welcome” or “We can do it” have cleared his guest room or have a tent in his garden where five immigrants can live. Or the green ones (with the limousine with the foldable bicycle behind the parliament) let go—there and the last meters to the Hohenhaus cycle. Suffering would have everyone under these conditions. Does anyone?
KZ: Do you acknowledge the efforts of new Chancellor Christian Kern to bring the country out of a standstill?
DM: That is his profession and his responsibility. What he can really move, he will prove.
KZ: How do you experience the supposed-opponent Sebastian Kurz?
DM: What applies to Christian Kern also applies to him and to every, other official. At short notice, he is very intelligent, courageous and charismatic. It is possible to divide its positions as far as possible.
KZ: Is it increasingly difficult for you to live in Austria?
DM: How could I find it difficult to live in Austria? I have only promised myself that I would stop with this general nagging and call things by their name. This has nothing to do with anger but with the responsibility of a mature and critical citizen. And that is all responsibility. It just insults my intelligence—if you still want us to be manipulated and stupid.
KZ: We do not know you so harshly.
DM: I do not see any rumors or polemics. I see facts. And perhaps, here and there, the legitimate rhetorical means of override to make things recognizable.
KZ: A cosmopolitan and owner of a global brand is concerned about the loss of one’s own cultural identity?
DM: There is a critical mass at all. At the weekend, 20,000 hikers and mountainbikers in Hohe Tauern National Park, which goes. There the chamois just put together. If you make the 20,000 but 200,000 or even two million, then the whole thing is broken. We must understand that not only the natural regions are finite but all resources, energy, water, food, air, medical care, everything—even the earth itself. I am not talking about refugees under the Geneva Convention. I am talking about what has long to be recognized and expected: the very large immigration flows and migrations across the globe. There will be many hundreds of millions of people in a better living area, where there is still drinking water, an intact nature and where human rights apply.
KZ: Does not Europe, if it is understood as Christian, have the ethical obligation to make wealth and welfare accessible to others?
DM: This commitment has not only a Christian Europe but every person who can contribute something. A small problem at the edge is that everyone wants what the other has more, but no one wants to give to the one who has less. A redistribution within the church would not be an interesting topic but only by the way. And back to reality. If you share the whole fortune of the previously stressed ‘Forbes’ list on the rest of mankind, you do not even notice it.
KZ: Employers are allowed to enact a headscarf ban in their companies. How do you deal with that?
DM: I do not care about that. People must be alright. They can be shorts in summer when it is 30 degrees. I find it ridiculous to make a political turn. There are more urgent things to do.
KZ: What virtues do you require from employees?
DM: Professional competence, straightforwardness, decency, character. This includes not only a certain performance potential but also the willingness to provide this potential. It does not matter if I could do anything, but I am not ready to use it. I am trying to surround myself with people who share my philosophy between “work hard” and “play hard.” Just working is stupid; just doing nothing…same way. People are equal in their rights, but their responsibilities and abilities are different, and we try to promote this diversity. This corresponds to our worldview.
KZ: What is your world view?
DM: The cornerstones are individualism and non-conformism.
KZ: Do you allow it in the company too? How do you deal with contradiction?
DM: In professional life in general, so also for us, it is primarily about facts, analysis, planning and implementation. So right or wrong, there is little space for opinion and feeling. A consensus in a team is then usually not very difficult.
KZ: A well-known German newspaper compared Red Bull to a sect and their company boss with a guru: ruler of a closed system and a shielded world from which only the desire of the athletes, the passion for the risk and the greed for success to penetrate outwards.
DM: Some, who wrote about Red Bull in the last decades, should be ashamed of the land—so much nonsense of nonsense was spread. First, Red Bull supposedly had as much caffeine as 36, large browns then suddenly became addicting. I was portrayed as a drug dealer. Later, it was said there was a dark power behind it. I know of no more transparent and straightforward company than ours. But we are talking only when we have something to say. Do not cackle before we have laid the egg. And I personally claim a certain privacy. What is also conclusive is, after all, not the product but the product.
KZ: Have not you also fired all these caricatures yourself by radically avoiding the public? This is how the myths develop.
DM: I do not withdraw from the public; I am on the road every day privately or professionally. I also give interviews with sports and business specialists. What I do not, however, is press myself into media on every suitable and inappropriate occasion. The time is too bad for me. I do not have a revolver story with the rainbow press.
KZ: [Do you] read everything that is written about Red Bull or about you?
KZ: They read aloud.
DM: Neither. When I’m drawn to so-called criticism, I look first at who it comes from. Usually these are people whose praise would disturb me more than their criticism.
KZ: You were also confronted with abuse, when Red Bull entered the German football in Leipzig. You can still see hostile banners on the stands in stadium. Does that affect you?
DM: We are talking about hardcore fans (about hooligans or ultras) who abuse football in general and Red Bull especially for the purpose of their conflict and violence. There is a minority in football who make it about class struggle—just want to be drunk or fireworks. I register, and it is done. It does not hurt me. The fact that one or the other president feels obliged to signal sympathy and approval for such things is perhaps not particularly thought out—especially if he looks at his own financing. But no matter. What counts in football is sporting success, fairness in dealing with the opponent and the overwhelming atmosphere in a sold-out stadium. We have achieved this undeniably.
KZ: Nevertheless, supporters in Germany are accusing your company of defrauding football because you would misrepresent it as a marketing vehicle.
DM: Sometimes, you just have to wonder. With Sebastian Vettel, we have been four-time world champions and once second in five years. We play ice hockey in Munich; were German champions in the first year and play again in the final in the second year. Many of our athletes bring world-class performance; and with our events, we set new standards.
KZ: How do you explain the rejection and the reservations with parts of the audience?
DM: I almost believe our real crime is not that we play football but that we are successful. That we have risen four times in six years. Now, we are very proud—with one of the more favorable teams (and the youngest) table-winners in the 1st German Bundesliga. If the team in Leipzig with Bayern Munich compares, it is like a recruit battalion against Roman mercenaries in their penultimate battle. An all-German survey has chosen us as the most popular football clubs in Germany. There is, therefore, again a negligible minority of an overwhelming majority.
KZ: In Austria, one does not want to forgive you, that you from Salzburg the best to Leipzig.
DM: No one thought so for a long time. People have long understood that our concept, in combination with the academy of young academics, is the only right thing and possible for the Austrian league. In this way, we get young talent for education, which would otherwise never come. And if they become too good for our league, they just go—whether to Leipzig or elsewhere (does not matter). And as long as they are there, to get a proper education with us, Austria’s football benefits from it. Never before has an Austrian U19 team played in the final of the Youth Cup and eliminated clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City or Atletico Madrid. And even an Austrian club has never achieved more than one-hundred-million transfers in one-and-a-half years.
KZ: How did you experience the rise and fall of the national team?
DM: Like all Austrians. The rise is staged and overestimated—the case is sobering.
KZ: They were flirting with the withdrawal from Formula One. They had no competitive engine and painfully unsuccessful years. What do you want to achieve this year?
DM: The ‘painfully unsuccessful years’ are two—with the second place in the design evaluation. But after having been four-time world champions, we want to go back to the World Championship this year and next year.
KZ: Formula One is not doing well. It suffers from a lack of tension—the number of viewers disappears. In addition, the crisis of legitimacy in times of the CO2 debate. Is the circus still contemporary?
DM: Formula One is doing better. It has become more exciting, and the attendance figures are rising significantly again this year. We will try to make our competitiveness more attractive. Exciting, sporting competition at the highest level—only on it comes the motorsport (everything else is irrelevant).
KZ: Is your son, Mark, following in your footsteps?
DM: He successfully completed his bachelor’s degree this year and will be a part-time associate at our company. I leave him a little—the seriousness of life brings him in early enough.“
Mateschitz went on to discuss hunting, restaurants and the health of his business. Nevertheless, we can expect only big and bold things from his forthcoming news entity. As an offshoot of the Red Bull Ring, it can only fly sky high…