Latest account of the Dan Price saga chronicles his vague answers to chicken-and-egg questions about the lawsuit and the pay raise. Something fresh and more disturbing is also reported.
Last summer The Seattle Times reported that Dan Price, a national celebrity for raising the minimum annual pay at his Seattle-based credit card processor Gravity Payments to $70,000, had been sued by brother and company co-founder Lucas Price for overpaying himself.
The story noted that the lawsuit was dated March 13, several weeks before Dan Price’s April 13 proclamation, though it wasn’t filed in King County Superior Court until April 24. Lucas’s attorney said in that story that the cause was “an aggregation of events over the course of years” rather than the planned all-employee pay hike.
That hardly tarnished the narrative of the seemingly selfless CEO willing to cut his million-dollar salary to benefit about 70 low-paid employees. Book and TV appearances have followed, and Price has fed the adulation with high-minded declarations that cite “a moral imperative to do the best you can for those you’re leading.”
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But a Dec. 1 Bloomberg Business story adds new dimensions to the Price saga by chronicling his vague answers to chicken-and-egg questions about the lawsuit and the pay raise.
Something fresh and more disturbing is also reported — claims by his ex-wife that Price severely abused her.
Asked about the Bloomberg piece, Gravity Payments responded Wednesday with an emailed statement, saying the story “contained reckless accusations and baseless speculations that are unequivocally false,” though it did not address any specifics. The company did not make Dan Price available to discuss the story.
Bloomberg writer Karen Weise’s article notes a sworn court filing saying the lawsuit was served on someone fitting his description at his house on March 16 — well before the big April pay raise.
But Price repeatedly told Weise that “I am only aware of the suit being initiated after the raise” and wouldn’t address the discrepancy, Bloomberg reports.
Weise contends the contradictions may overturn the narrative that the Gravity Payments CEO and his company have spun: Instead of the raise provoking the lawsuit, she suggests, “if anything, it may have been the other way around.”
She hypothesizes that cutting his own pay while raising all employees to $70K was a strategic ploy that increases Dan Price’s financial and PR leverage vis-a-vis his brother in an ongoing dispute.
Of course, it’s possible that Dan Price’s ideas about revamping company pay were made known to his brother long before the lawsuit. (Lucas Price’s lawyer told Bloomberg his client only got an email about the pending raise on April 9.)
The answer may not matter.
More disturbing to the image of a sensitive and righteous CEO was Bloomberg’s report that Price’s ex-wife says she was beaten and even “waterboarded” by him during a half-dozen years of marriage.
Formerly known as Kristie Price, Kristie Colon is the marketing director at a San Francisco cosmetics company. She blogs about the power of the written word to help in “getting real, being honest, finding hope.”
She gave a TEDx talk at the University of Kentucky on Oct. 28. The capsule bio on the TEDx website says she “was married at 20, divorced at 27, and lived through a relationship that was abusive in every sense of the word.”
King County records show Kristie and Dan Price were divorced in 2012. The divorce file does not include any information about possible abuse.
Colon could not be reached for comment late this week, and the TEDx video is reportedly not scheduled to be available online until next week.
But Weise writes that Colon, without identifying Price by name, read a 2006 journal entry that described how her then-husband “threw me to the ground and got on top of me. He started punching me in the stomach and slapped me across the face.”
Colon, according to Bloomberg, also related how she locked herself in a car, “afraid he was going to body-slam me into the ground again or waterboard me in our upstairs bathroom like he had done before.”
Bloomberg asked Price about Colon’s account, and eventually he responded that those events “never happened.”
The litigation between the Price brothers could very well be settled out of court, as many lawsuits are. But if it does go to trial next May as scheduled, expect the national media to be there from the first gavel.