The “Robin Hood” CEO Who Famously Raised His Employees’ Minimum Wage To $70,000 Has A Dirty Secret

Tyler Durden's picture

When Gravity Payment’s CEO Dan Price announced on April 13 that he would raise the minimum wage of his staff to $70,000 a year, the story went beyond viral: it took the media, especially the part of it which has been obsessing with income and wealth inequality which in the aftermath of Piketty would be most of it, by meteoric storm. Not only that, but the soon to be lionized young chief executive doubled down on this story of “purest of corporate nobility” by announcing he would cut his own compensation of $1.1 million to offset the cost.

Price’s story rocketed around the world, “a capitalist fairy tale to counter growing inequality.” As Bloomberg’s Karen Weise writes “with his tousled long hair and dark brown eyes, Price combined Brad Pitt’s smolder and Boo Boo Bear’s aw-shucks demeanor to become an articulate and attractive messenger. Rush Limbaugh denounced him as a socialist. Jesse Ventura christened him Robin Hood.”

By 3 a.m. the morning after the announcement, Price’s phone was buzzing. The Today Show wanted him the next morning, as did Good Morning America. He hopped a plane to New York. “I did something like 25 live TV interviews in three days,” he says. “We are really passionate about reforming credit card processing. This seemed like an opportunity—we could have a really big impact doing that.”

Fox News pilloried him. Actor Russell Brand, in a laudatory YouTube video, joked, “It’s difficult to ignore the fact that Dan Price looks a lot like Jesus.”

Price signed with the talent agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment and now charges as much as $20,000 per speech, Pirkle says. Price told his team that the company was getting free booth space at Inc. magazine’s annual conference, in addition to a speaking fee. “In terms of what they’re paying us for a one-hour talk, we’re looking at well over $100,000,” he said. Inc. put him on its November cover. (Inc. didn’t respond to requests for comment.)

The idea came to him, he later told the media, after talking to a friend who earned less than he did. He’d read about a study showing that extra income improves the happiness of people who earn less than about $75,000. “It’s not about making money; it’s about making a difference,” Price told the Today Showone of two dozen TV interviews he did in the days following the announcement.

When Price made his $70,000 announcement, he told his staff, “My pay is set based on market rates and kinda what it would take to replace me. And because of this growing inequality, as a CEO that amount is really, really high. I make, uh, you know, a crazy, uh, my compensation is really, really high.”

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