In April of 2015, Dan Price, the CEO of Gravity Payments, made national news when he announced his plan to raise the salary of every Gravity Payments employee to $70,000.
Immediately following his announcement, Price was bombarded with media requests. He was on the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine, labeled by some as “the best boss in America,” made appearances on The Daily Show and Good Morning America, landed a book deal with the same company that publishes Malcolm Gladwell, and is now getting speaking gigs at the hottest conferences in America for $100,000 a pop.
However, it turns out that Price is completely and utterly full of shit.
In a recent article for Bloomberg, reporter Karen Weise revealed that not only are many of the details in the Dan Price story a flat-out lie, but the entire wage raise was spurred by Price to skyrocket him to CEO celebrity status and hurt his co-founder and brother.
Here’s a list of the nonsense that Weise pointed out:
1 Price’s compensation prior to the $70,000 raise was a staggering $1.1 million, which was not approved by his board. Gravity Payment’s net revenue was $16 million in 2014. The top quartile of companies with similar net revenue is $373,000, making Price’s compensation nearly 3x above the most paid CEOs at similarly-sized companies.
Price claimed that the Gravity Payment’s board (made up of himself and his brother Lucas) approved his salary. This however, is not true. Lucas Price objected to Dan’s salary, but because Dan owns the majority of the company he was able to overrule his brother. With this money, Dan bought a $900,000 house in cash.
2 He is accused of repeatedly water boarding and beating his wife. On October 28 Price’s ex-wife, Kristie Colón, gave a TEDx talk where she said Price “started punching me in the stomach and slapped me across the face.” Later, Colón said that she had to lock herself in the car because she was “afraid he was going to body-slam me into the ground again or waterboard me in our upstairs bathroom like he had done before.” In a cover story, Price told Inc. that the two divorced “amicably” in 2012.
3 Price claims he was sued out of jealousy by his brother (and co-founder) two weeks after he made the $70,000 announcement. Gravity Payments was founded by two brothers: Dan and Lucas Price. When Lucas left the company, Dan raised his own salary (from $50,000 to $1 million in one year), causing a rift between the two.
And so on March 16, one month before the famous $70,000 announcement was made, Dan was officially served a notice that Lucas was suing him. Court documents prove that Dan signed the papers and knew of the lawsuit. However, Dan claimed that he was being sued after the wage announcement because Lucas was jealous of the press.
4 Price raised his employees’ wages to $70,000 so his brother wouldn’t receive his fair share of Gravity Payment’s dividends, not because he want to improve his employees’ lives. In an interview with the Seattle Times, Dan said of his brother’s lawsuit: “I know the decision to pay everyone a living wage is controversial. I deeply regret the rift this has caused in my relationship with my brother,” implying that the lawsuit came about because of Lucas’ jealousy.
However, Weise discovered that “the lawsuit couldn’t have been prompted by the pay raise (because the lawsuit was filed before the raise) — if anything, it may have been the other way around.” In other words, instead of paying his disgruntled brother an annual dividend, Dan made the wage increase to hurt his brother and further his own personal agenda of being a CEO celebrity.
5 Price claims to have been contacted by numerous reality TV show producers. That’s a lie. Price said that he has been contacted by Ryan Seacrest’s production company about a reality show. However, a Seacrest spokesman said he “does not recall ever speaking with Mr. Price.”
6 And finally, Price said “I’m just so sick of attention … It just feels like a lot of investment of yourself.” Yet Price and his team asked six different times if he’d be on Bloomberg Businessweek’s cover. Dan Price wins the award for biggest humblebragger of 2015.
Obviously, this Dan Price fella is full of it. While he wants us all to believe that he made the price hike because he wanted to help his employees, he really did it to increase his celebrity status and hurt the one person (his brother) who called him out on his bullshit.
And equally interesting, this is the second time in a few months that Inc. wrote a coverstory on a CEO who just weeks later proved to be a fraud. The first being Elizabeth Holmes.
If there’s anything that we have learned, whether it be Price, or even Martin Shkreli, it’s that if a story looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Click here to read Bloomberg’s entire piece. It’s a good one.