CEO Upped Salaries to $70K. But Were His Reasons Pure?

Karen Weise of Bloomberg Businessweek takes a hard look at Dan Price
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2015 9:07 AM CST
Cary Chin, left, is seen through a sign on the glass door of Gravity Payments, a credit card payment processor based in Seattle, as she works Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Gravity CEO Dan Price told his...   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(Newser) – This spring, Seattle-based Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price became an instant sensation when he announced that he would be cutting his roughly $1 million salary to ensure that all 120 of his employees would be paid a minimum salary of $70,000. "It’s not about making money; it’s about making a difference," he told the Today Show during a media blitz in the days after his April 13 announcement. His story instantly went viral, he started work on a book with Malcolm Gladwell's literary agent, and actor Russell Brand even joked that he "looks a lot like Jesus." But there appears to be more to the story, and Price may be more shrewd than purely altruistic. Bloomberg Business reporter Karen Weise, over the course of profiling Price's decision to raise salaries across the board, learned that Price's brother and Gravity shareholder Lucas Price served him with a lawsuit before the April pay hike announcement, on March 16, alleging "burdensome, harsh and wrongful" actions.

So while Dan Price has suggested that the lawsuit is the result of the pay hike—Lucas Price stands to earn less because more profits are going toward salaries—it may actually have been a brilliant marketing move to make Dan Price out to be the good guy and thus help his chances of beating the lawsuit. The suit also asks that Dan Price buy out Lucas' shares, but with less profit, that's tougher to do. Oh, and Dan Price told Weise that he was served two weeks after he made the announcement. Dan Price's response to her questions about the inconsistency between court records and his version of the timing? "I am only aware of the suit being initiated after the raise." (He repeated this four times.) He has, however, denied allegations about to be made public by his former wife through TEDx that he beat and even waterboarded her during their marriage. In a statement to the Guardian, the company said Weise put forth "reckless accusations and baseless speculations that are unequivocally false." (Read more minimum wage stories.)

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