The Seattle, Idaho, executive who rose to national prominence for setting a $70,000 minimum wage for all his employees — and cutting his own to match — has resigned as CEO of the company he founded in college amid allegations of abuse .
Dan Price said he left Gravity Payments, a credit card processing company, to dedicate more time to “fighting false claims.” Earlier this year, he was accused of trying to kiss a woman against her will, the Seattle Times reported.
Price resigned shortly before The New York Times published an investigative story detailing allegations by a number of women of inappropriate behavior. “Mr. Price̵[ads1]7;s Internet fame has enabled a pattern of abuse in his personal life and hostile behavior at his company, interviews with more than 50 people, documents and police reports show,” the Times article said.
“My No. 1 priority is for our employees to work for the best company in the world, but my presence has become a distraction here,” Price wrote in an email to his staff that he also shared on Twitter Wednesday night. “I also have to step aside from those duties to focus full-time on fighting 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 huge pay gap between them and their workers, Price rose to fame in 2015 after announcing he would raise all employees’ wages to at least $70,000. At the time, his 120 employees were paid an average salary of $48,000 a year, according to the Times.
He also reduced his own $1 million compensation to that floor, took a more than 90% pay cut, and used about three-quarters of the year’s profits to cover the higher salaries, the report added. Price said he would keep wages low until profits were made back.
On Twitter, Price touted the success of the company’s model and the benefits offered to employees. The minimum wage for workers is now $80,000, he said, and employees received $10,000 baseline raises this year. Job openings typically attract more than 300 applicants, he said.
The original salary floor was set the same year Price won a legal battle against his older brother, Lucas Price. A three-week legal battle followed after his brother alleged that his rights as a minority shareholder were violated when Dan Price increased 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 grew up between Melba and Marsing in rural Canyon County, the Idaho Statesman previously reported. He graduated from Nampa Christian High in 2003. His father, Ron Price, is a longtime business consultant, speaker and author in Boise.
Price was 19 when he started Gravity Payments in 2004 from his dorm room at Seattle Pacific University, a Christian liberal arts university, using seed money from Lucas Price, according to the Times.
In 2019, Dan Price visited 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 of ordinary workers and criticism of big business. He authored a 2020 book titled “Worth It: How a Million Dollar Pay Cut and a $70,000 Minimum Wage Revealed a Better Way of Doing Business.”
He also wrote that 98% of Gravity Payments employees volunteered to temporarily cut their pay from 5 to 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 CEO, Tammi Kroll, has stepped in as CEO, Price said in his announcement.
Idaho Statesman Business and Local News Editor David Staats contributed.
This story was originally published August 18, 2022 1:32 p.m.