The CEO of Seattle, Idaho, who gained national notoriety for setting a $70,000 minimum wage for all of his employees — and cutting his own accordingly — has quit the company he founded in the university amid misdemeanor assault charges.
Dan Price said he was leaving Gravity Payments, a credit card processing company, to devote more time to “fighting false claims”. Earlier this year, he was charged with attempting to kiss a woman against her will, The Seattle Times reported.
“My #1 priority is for our people to work for the best company in the world, but my presence has become a distraction here,” he wrote in an email to staff that he also shared on Twitter on Wednesday. evening. “I also have to step away from those duties to focus full time on fighting the false accusations against me,” adding, “I’m not going anywhere.”
Price did not elaborate on the allegations or immediately respond to a request for comment. Gravity Payments did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A frequent critic of corporate executives and the vast pay gap between them and their employees, Price shot to fame in 2015 after announcing he would raise every employee’s salary to at least $70,000. At that time, its 120 employees received an average salary of $48,000 a year, according to the Times.
He also slashed his own compensation by $1 million to that floor, taking a pay cut of more than 90%, and tapped about three-quarters of this year’s profits to cover higher salaries, the report added. . Price said he would keep his salary low until the benefits are clawed back.
On Twitter, Price touted the success of his company’s model and the employee benefits. The minimum wage for workers is now $80,000, he said, and staff members have received basic raises of $10,000 this year. Job postings typically attract more than 300 applicants, he said.
The initial salary floor was set the same year Price won a legal battle against his older brother, Lucas Price. A three-week court battle ensued after his brother alleged his rights as a minority shareholder were violated when Dan Price raised his own salary later that year. A King County Superior Court judge disagreed and ordered Lucas Price to pay his brother’s legal fees, totaling $1.3 million.
Price was 19 when he launched Gravity Payments in 2004 from his Seattle Pacific University dorm, using seed capital from Lucas Price, according to the Times.
In 2019, Dan Price traveled to Boise to open a Gravity Payments office at 110 N. 27th St., where 40 people worked.
Now 38, Price’s public persona is shaped around his advocacy for average workers and his criticism of big business. He is the author of a 2020 book titled “It’s Worth It: How a Million Dollar Pay Cut and $70,000 Minimum Wage Revealed a Better Way to Do Business.”
He also wrote that 98% of Gravity Payments employees volunteered to take temporary pay cuts of 5-100% to avoid layoffs. On Wednesday, Price said the company has never laid off a single employee in its 18-year history.
The company’s chief operating officer, Tammi Kroll, has taken over as CEO, Price said in his announcement.
David Staats, Idaho Statesman’s local business and news editor, contributed.
This story was originally published August 18, 2022 1:32 p.m.