Dan Price, CEO Famous for Setting $70K Minimum Salary, Resigns amid Abuse and Rape Allegations

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Featured Speaker: Dan Price - 2022 SXSW Conference and Festivals
Featured Speaker: Dan Price - 2022 SXSW Conference and Festivals

Hutton Supancic/Getty Dan Price

Dan Price, the Gravity Payments CEO who made headlines when he raised his company's minimum salary to $70,000, resigned on Wednesday as he faces multiple abuse allegations.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Price said he needed to "focus full time on fighting false accusations" and announced that Tammi Kroll, the company's chief operating officer, would take over as CEO.

"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, 38, was charged with assault and driving recklessly in February, according to the Seattle Times. The charges stem from allegations made by a 26-year-old woman, who told Seattle police in January that she and Price had gone out to a restaurant together and he made unwanted advances after the dinner, the newspaper reported.

Price allegedly attempted to kiss the woman while in his Tesla and grabbed her throat when she rejected his advances, according to her account to police as cited by the outlet. The woman claimed Price then drove her to a nearby parking lot and did "doughnuts" in his car (driving in circles to cause tires to skid), according to the documents.

"We have already obtained evidence that contradicts key details of the police report and raises serious doubts about the complainant's credibility," Price's attorney, Mark Middaugh, wrote in an email to the Seattle Times in April. "Mr. Price respects the legal process and is confident that he will be vindicated in court."

Price pleaded not guilty in May, per the Seattle Times. A hearing is set for Sept. 30, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Dan Price speaks during the Q & A portion of the Premiere Of "Unbreakable: The Steve Zakuani Story" held at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres on June 11, 2019
Dan Price speaks during the Q & A portion of the Premiere Of "Unbreakable: The Steve Zakuani Story" held at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres on June 11, 2019

Albert L. Ortega/Getty Dan Price

Price has also been accused, but not yet charged, of raping a woman he was dating as she attempted to sleep in their hotel room in Palm Springs, California in April 2021, the New York Times reported. Kacie Margis, a model and artist, said that she had been locked out of their room for hours because Price needed privacy for a call, the outlet reported. Upon re-entering the room, Margis — who had been regularly using cannabis to combat insomnia she suffered after being at a mass shooting during a 2017 music festival in Las Vegas — took an edible to sleep, she told police, per the newspaper.

She told police and the New York Times that Price tried to initiate sex and was turned down by Margis, but he still proceeded to penetrate her without her permission as she began dozing off, the newspaper reported. After an investigation, authorities in Palm Springs recommended that local prosecutors charge Price with the rape of a drugged victim, according to the report.

Citing interviews with over 50 people, documents and police reports, the New York Times concluded that "Mr. Price's internet fame has enabled a pattern of abuse in his personal life and hostile behavior at his company." The allegations include Price secretly recording sexual interactions with women without their consent.

Responding to the allegations earlier this week, Price told the New York Times he "never physically or sexually abused anyone" and claimed "other accusations of inappropriate behavior towards women in this story are simply false."

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As for his behavior as CEO, Price told the newspaper before his resignation, "Making Gravity an outstanding place to work is my top priority, and I believe I'm achieving that goal."

Price, his attorney and Gravity Payments did not immediately return PEOPLE's requests for comment.

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In a 2015 Bloomberg report, Price denied his former wife's claim in a 2015 TEDx speech about trauma that she had been beaten and waterboarded by her ex-husband.

An attorney for the University of Kentucky, where the speech was filmed, said in a statement to Entrepreneur at the time: "Mr. Price's representatives notified the University of Kentucky that they believed some of the content in the video talk in question was defamatory. In light of this concern, the university chose to exercise its discretion not to post the video. The university does not presently have possession of the video. The university takes no position on whether the content was, in fact, defamatory."

Also in 2015, Price made headlines around the world when he announced he would cut his own $1 million salary by 90 percent to help raise the salaries of his 130 employees to a minimum of $70,000 per year.

"There's a number where if you make less than that, it's going to hurt you, your well-being, in a major way," Price told PEOPLE in 2020. "For the vast majority of people out there, their health and well-being are harmed if they're making less than $70,000 a year."

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After Gravity Payments acquired an Idaho-based company, Price implemented the same raise for the new employees in 2019.

Price said he was inspired to make the salary changes in part by a 2010 study from Angus Deaton and Daniel Kahneman that claimed a person's happiness and well-being might rise with income — but only to a certain point. Researchers believed a salary past $75,000 wouldn't significantly affect one's emotional well-being and that incomes higher than that could buy life satisfaction, but not happiness.

In 2021, Price claimed his company's revenue had tripled since 2015.

"Six years later and our revenue has tripled. More importantly, our staff and company are thriving in various ways," he PEOPLE. "[We have a] 10-time increase in new homes bought and babies born. Employees have increased savings and paid down debts."