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‘$70,000 CEO’ Dan Price resigns as chief of Gravity Payments after assault allegations

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Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price appears in court in 2016 for a lawsuit that was brought against him by his brother and former business partner. Price, who is facing misdemeanor charges of assault and reckless driving, resigned as CEO on Wednesday. (GeekWire File Photo / Todd Bishop)

Dan Price, who made international headlines seven years ago for his plan to raise the minimum wage at Gravity Payments, resigned Wednesday as CEO of the Seattle-based company.

Price tweeted an email sent to employees about his resignation. “My No. 1 priority is for our employees to work for the best company in the world, but my presence has become a distraction here,” he wrote. “I also need to step aside from these duties to focus full time on fighting false accusations made against me. I’m not going anywhere.”

Price pleaded not guilty in May to misdemeanor charges of assault and reckless driving in connection with an incident in which prosecutors alleged he attempted to kiss a 26-year-old woman in his car and then grabbed her throat when she rebuffed him.

Gravity Payments Chief Operating Officer Tammi Kroll is replacing Price as CEO. The credit card processing and technology company based in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood has 240 employees.

Gravity Payments made international headlines due to Price’s decision, announced in April 2015, to raise the company’s minimum salary to $70,000 over three years and immediately drop his compensation — previously more than $1 million — to $70,000 to help fund the raises.

In the process, Price became an outspoken advocate for workers’ rights, and equitable pay, frequently criticizing corporate leaders on social media and in press interviews.

Price helped start Gravity Payments 18 years ago.

In 2016, he prevailed in a lawsuit that was brought against him by his brother and former business partner, Lucas Price, that included a claim that Dan Price had used his majority control of Gravity Payments to pay himself excessive compensation. Court records showed that the suit was served on Dan Price in the days prior to his landmark salary announcement inside the company.

Gravity now has a minimum wage of $80,000 and reported record revenue last year, according to a tweet Price posted Wednesday.

Update: The New York Times on Thursday published the results of an extensive investigation, by reporter Karen Weise, detailing additional allegations against Price. His resignation Wednesday came hours after he responded to the newspaper’s questions, according to the report.

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