CEO who raised workers' minimum pay to $70K hits predictable problems

Do you remember that millennial CEO from Seattle who raised the salaries of all of his employees to at least $70K to combat income inequality? That was a really inspirational story for many in the SJW movement and made Dan Price a sort of sainted figure among liberals as he paved the way toward a more fair and equal future. Unfortunately, as many conservative, free market analysts predicted at the time, such generosity can come at a cost. And now the young entrepreneur seems to be hitting the reality wall. (Fox News)

The Seattle CEO who reaped a publicity bonanza when he boosted the salaries of his employees to a minimum of $70,000 a year says he has fallen on hard times.

Dan Price, 31, tells the New York Times that things have gotten so bad he’s been forced to rent out his house.

Only three months ago Price was generating headlines—and accusations of being a socialist — when he announced the new salary minimum for all 120 employees at his Gravity Payments credit card processing firm. Price said he was doing it, and slashing his $1 million pay package to pay for it, to address the wealth gap.

“I’m working as hard as I ever worked to make it work,” he told the Times in a video that shows him sitting on a plastic bucket in the garage of his house. “I’m renting out my house right now to try and make ends meet myself.”

The fact that Mr. Price himself is cutting corners in his personal life really has nothing to do with this story. It was his own choice to slash his salary and he is the only one responsible for his home budget. So be it. But he describes a number of other woes which were not only predictable, but probably unavoidable. First of all, some of his higher performing workers have quit. Why? Because people who were “just clocking in and out” with the “least skills” (as one former employee put it) got huge raises while the top talent got little or nothing. This is similar to a theme we’ve discussed here before, such as the backlash we can expect from people who have skilled labor jobs paying 15 or 16 dollars an hour when they suddenly see the guy running the fry machine getting the same thing.

Long time customers also bailed out on Gravity either because of disagreements with his politicized business policies or fears that he was raising his rates to cover his generous employee compensation package. The other person who is up in arms is the CEO’s own brother who is currently taking him to court. The sibling is a 30% partner in the firm and is watching the value of his investment (and his own income) melting away before his eyes. What is an investor supposed to do when the CEO suddenly appears to lose their mind and begins giving away all the company profits and crashing their revenue forecasts?

I’m sure Mr. Price is a very nice man and he clearly cares about people in general. But his move to push his generous nature into his business model is returning precisely the sort of results which the free market predicts.