About 13 years after founding energy-drink company Rockstar, Russell Weiner has emerged as a billionaire.
The 44-year-old controls 85 percent of the company; his mother, who serves as Rockstar’s chief financial officer, owns the rest. Weiner’s stake is worth about $1.5 billion, according to Bloomberg News reporter Annelise Alexander, citing data by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Despite concerns by consumers and the FDA about the marketing and overconsumption of caffeine, energy-drink sales continue to grow. U.S. retail sales in the 52 weeks ending June 15 were up 4.4 percent from the previous year, according to IRI, a market research firm in Chicago. ”The category is benefiting from a high level of product innovation,” notes a report by Bloomberg Industries. ”In June, Coca-Cola (KO) extended its flavored water brand Vitaminwater into the energy-drink category with Vitaminwater Energy, a lightly carbonated beverage boosted with green coffee bean extract.”
Weiner has billionaire peers in the energy-drink industry, too. Top-selling brand Red Bull created two billionaires: co-founders Dietrich Mateschitz of Austria (whose net worth is about $7.7 billion) and the late Chaleo Yoovidhy of Thailand (whose fortune was worth about $4.8 billion). And Monster Beverage (MNST) Chief Executive Officer Rodney Sacks is fast approaching billionaire status, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.