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The rise and fall of Dan Price, the CEO from Idaho who set a $70K minimum yearly salary

The Spokesman-Review

Remembering their time at Gravity Payments, some employees of the Seattle-based credit card processor recall a pernicious cycle.

Come in star-struck by celebrity founder and CEO Dan Price, a progressive social media star famous for setting base salaries at $70,000. Then notice the demands pile up. Attend a company event where colleagues share their personal traumas. Answer Price’s late-night calls. Overhear one of the CEO’s “explosive” outbursts.

Watch your stress level rise and work-life balance collapse.

Finally, get fed up and leave, or speak up and get pushed out.

Price was 19 and full of grand ambitions to slash credit card processing fees for small businesses when he launched Gravity in 2004. Now 38, Price has branded himself as a model corporate leader who puts employees’ interests ahead of his own.

But, in interviews with the Seattle Times, more than two dozen former Gravity employees said Price became obsessed with curating his compassionate persona, even if it didn’t match the person behind the viral posts. As CEO, Price cultivated a sense of fear and built a company that, as one former employee put it, was “just there to get Dan famous.”