Soriano: A lifetime of entitlement: The Red Bull scion story

Soriano: A lifetime of entitlement: The Red Bull scion story

More than 10 years have passed and the heir to the Red Bull fortune, Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, has remained scot-free and his legal team continues to stonewall prosecutors. According to news reports, shortly before the break of dawn on Sept. 3, 2012, a black Ferrari driven by Vorayuth allegedly slammed into a motorcycle cop, dragging his mangled body along a Bangkok street, before speeding away. This incident fueled outrage so the parent company of the Thai Red Bull brand, The TCP Group, has distanced itself from the controversy around the alleged hit and run. In a statement, it said Vorayuth had “never assumed any role in the management and daily operations of TCP Group, was never a shareholder, nor has he held any executive position within TCP Group.”

Who is Vorayuth Yoovidhya?

Why was he embroiled in a controversy related to his alleged involvement in a fatal hit-and-run case dating back to 2012? Why did his case spark public outrage that even today there is so much anger on how the criminal justice system is dispensed when it comes to the rich and the poor? Why does he continue to evade arrest after 10 long years? Why was the global brand Red Bull dragged into this scandal?

To this day, Vorayuth continues to evade charges and still flaunts his playboy jet-set lifestyle.

His grandfather, the late Chaleo Yoovidhya, created the Red Bull energy drink and built it into a global empire. Born to impoverished Chinese immigrants in northern Thailand, Mr. Chaleo co-founded, created and marketed Red Bull, an energy drink that has a high caffeine content and contains ingredients that can boost energy. It is a drink that primarily caters to individuals that usually work long hours. By the time of his death in 2012, his interests spanned hospitals, real estate, and sports teams and expanded to restaurants, a winery, and Thailand’s only official importer of Ferrari cars. His eldest son Chalerm Yoovidhya took over the iconic energy drink business. He is the father of Vorayuth.

In a New York Times article in 2012 penned by David Segal, he described Mr. Chaleo as “Having little formal education and founded a small pharmaceutical company, TC Pharmaceutical Industries, in the early ’60s. He started producing antibiotics but later turned to concoct a beverage that was loaded with caffeine, as well as an amino acid called taurine and a carbohydrate called glucuronolactone.” Chaleo invented Krating Daeng, a sweet, caffeine-powered beverage that became a huge hit for night owls, particularly those partying, students cramming for an exam, security personnel etc. Segal added. “Christened ‘Krathing Daeng’ or ‘red bull’ in Thai, it was initially marketed to laborers and truckers in need of a boost. The drink, along with its many imitators, became the unofficial beverage of the expansion that turned Thailand into one of Asia’s so-called tiger cub economies in the ’80s.”

As the wealth of the family grew rapidly, the Yoovidhya clan became part of Thailand’s most prominent and powerful families. In 2021 alone, it sold 9.8 billion cans across 171 countries, and it is estimated that the family has a fortune worth US$26.4 billion. Does Vorayuth personify what parents fear when they hand over the business to the next generation of family members... heartless, spoiled, and without any accountability?

Do you have an entitled child?

The first step is to understand the meaning of entitlement. Merriam-Webster’s defines it as:

* The condition of having, to have, do, or get something

* The feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something such as special privileges

That last definition refers to a sense of being “owed” such benefits as: wealth; employment; and status without having to work to achieve these benefits.

Some children who grow up in a successful family business can be inclined to this feeling of entitlement and most often than not they do not contribute anything positive to the business. Entitlement issues are rampant in family enterprises. It is a dangerous disease that can damage the family business. When parents/owners ignore, tolerate, or do not attempt to put a stop to this malady, it can cause irreparable harm to the family.


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