Here's How the $70K CEO's Experiment Is Going, 5 Years In

Dan Price has no regrets, but won't call the plan a full 'success'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2020 4:04 PM CST
'$70K CEO' Says His Unconventional Plan Is Working
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.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

It grabbed major headlines, but the rollout of Gravity Payments' plan to pay all its workers at least $70,000 was not without bumps. Even so, Dan Price, the CEO of the Seattle payment processing company, says that five years later, he has no regrets. "It's worked very well for us. I'm pleased that we're making progress and that people's lives are better," Price, who cut his own $1.1 million salary to $70,000 as part of the plan, tells the CBC. "I'm happier than I've ever been," he adds, though he notes it's sometimes tempting to try and join the billionaire founder-turned-philanthropist club. But then he reminds himself, "We've been relying on billionaire philanthropists for so long, and I don't really think that's working out very well for us." He says that before implementing his plan in 2015, many of his employees struggled financially; now, many are buying homes and making serious dents in their debt, completely eliminating it in some cases.

Still, Price says, "I can't really fully declare it a success, because ... income inequality, wealth inequality, and just the disparity of power between the wealthiest and the most powerful and everybody else has continued to grow in an alarming way." As for the aforementioned bumps at Gravity specifically, two of the company's highest-paid workers quit in protest, concerned that the lower-paid workers who got overnight raises (70 of the 120 workers did, with 30 of those doubling their salaries) wouldn't pull their weight. But the company's sales director told the BBC last month that's far from the case: "You're not thinking I have to go to work because I have to make money. Now it's become focused on 'How do I do good work?'" she says, noting that junior workers are actually working harder, thus decreasing the workload of senior staff. And Price says the company has grown since he implemented the plan. (More Gravity Payment stories.)

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