New Evidence Supports Allegations That Famed $70K CEO Dan Price BEAT EX-WIFE.
| COMING SOON: New Evidence: Price Executed Widespread Fraud, Wells Fargo Implicated |
It was only a few years ago when Dan Price became a household name, let alone earth's first celebrity credit card processor. His meteoric rise was briefly curbed by horrific domestic violence allegations; however, the same legion of media outlets that raced to tell the story of a Seattle Millennial who stormed the national wage debate chose not to take the same deep-dive into his potentially dark past. Price has since sustained a course of profitable globetrotting without consequence. In fact, despite looming assertions of savagery, he recently penned a LinkedIn article rife with advice on how fellow CEOs should navigate predatory workplace behavior during the #MeToo era. I now possess documents that substantiate said myriad acts of torture that Price apparently inflicted upon his former wife, Kristie Colón. How this might affect staffers, clients, friends, loved ones, and media folks is anyone's guess.
February 14, 2018. Valentine’s Day. Depending upon one’s state of mind, this was a day to celebrate enduring love, facilitate a budding romance, or exacerbate angst. This was also day two of Startup Grind’s Global Conference, a Google-powered Silicon Valley mega-event driven to spread love among 7,000 amped up attendees. Startup Grind is Match.com for tech sector business pioneers and venture capitalists—an organization rife with one million such folks who seek hookups with sweet payoffs. Guest speakers included founders and C-levels from LinkedIn, Reddit, Houzz, PayPal, FitBit, and Google.
At 1:45 p.m., 33-year-old Dan Price was expected to occupy the main stage of the historic, 1,400-seat Fox Theater where he would further explain to a swarm of buzzing entrepreneurial bees the meaning behind his explicitly heroic speech title, “What I learned from setting a $70,000 minimum wage.”
Yet, Mr. Price was nowhere to be found. If history truly is our best teacher, one might have wondered if Price were buried under an avalanche of résumés or combating battalions of anti-socialists with his bare hands. He would later tweet:
This was not like Dan Price. His ills must have been exceptionally cruel; otherwise, this particular fellow would never miss an opportunity to sway even one high-tech hotshot.
During the previous three years, Price racked up frequent-flyer miles like Congress racked up lobbyists. He gave keynotes at highfalutin corporate fandangos. He spoke before the United Nations General Assembly. Ivy Leaguers such as Brown flew him in for lecture night, while Harvard assembled a research team to scrutinize his systems and practices. One moment he was on set at NBC’s Today, the next he was mic’d up on France24 (a premier Parisian news and current affairs program).
A month prior to Price’s scheduled speech, I sent an email to Karlie Krieger, the now former chief marketing officer of Startup Grind. I explained that, based on substantial evidence, one of her featured event speakers apparently committed grave professional and personal acts. The name "Dan Price" was never mentioned, nor were the hundreds of pages of documents that enumerated instances of ostensibly gruesome abuse.
Even after sending a follow-up email, I did not hear from Karlie Krieger. Regardless, Price never romanced a performance hall full of principals. And to be clear, my outreach likely did not have anything to do with his absence.
On April 13, 2015, rapt spectators filled another meeting space, but this time Price was present with no visible chills or ills. After all, this was his corporate HQ. These were his employees. And, that appearance would prove to be his crowning achievement. Field teams from The New York Times and NBC also happened to be in attendance, broadcast cameras firmly in tow. In fact, it was Price's relentless pursuit in the first place that led to their attendance.
Price professed his epiphany. CEO pay was way out of whack, and this was his time to tell the world enough was enough. “My income is really, really high. I make a crazy, you know, my compensation is really high.”
Yes, it was.
In 2015, his Seattle-based credit card processing company employed roughly 125 people and serviced approximately 17,000 accounts nationwide. Solid by any stretch. Nonetheless, size and lean operating income still placed the company on the small end of the small business spectrum.
This did not prevent Price from paying himself $1.1 million each year during 2013 and 2014 and over $2 million during 2012... a whopping 149 percent of net income. If one does the math, such a business formula is hardly sustainable. In fact, it wasn't.
As a 27-year-old in 2012, he paid cash for his 3,400sf house (currently estimated just shy of $2 million) in an exclusive neighborhood overlooking Elliott Bay. He also bought a yacht valued at well over a quarter million new. For perspective, CEOs of colossal credit card processing conglomerates with thousands of employees and millions of customer locations worldwide earned between 1.5% and 2.5% of net income, well below Price's take.
Faced with morale and attrition challenges, Price offered a peculiar solution for changing the 286:1 pay ratio between CEOs and average American workers and the massive gap between his very own pay and that of his underlings. Gravity staffers, whether they answered phones or brokered sales deals, would be paid a minimum of $50K on the spot, $60K in a year, and $70K within three years. Price also pledged to reduce his own salary to $70K with the caveat that it would rise again when t’s were crossed, i’s dotted, net income enriched.
Thanks to a hyper-connected world, network video of his beneficent gesture spread like virtual wildfire. Newspapers, TV networks, radio stations, podcasts, social media platforms, presidential candidates, celebrities, corporate titans, and regular folks celebrated the brassy CEO. Enrichment arrived faster than a Wall Street bonus. Book deal with Penguin--check. Speaker deal with WMA--check. TV deals in the works--check. Global consensus was that this good samaritan deserved the same good in return.
“There were two days [after the announcement] where I was hearing from friends that their friends of friends of friends from other countries were complaining that this dude in Seattle was filling up their Facebook news feed and basically made Facebook unusable.”
- Dan Price
As Paul Keegan wrote for Inc. Magazine, “The reaction was tsunamic, with 500 million interactions on social media and NBC's video becoming the most shared in network history.” Curiously, NBC’s “2015 Year in Review” never mentioned Price. Keegan continued, “Price had not only struck a nerve; he had also turbocharged a debate now raging across the American landscape, from presidential forums to barrooms to fast-food restaurants.”
I would later prove Keegan to be an unapologetic shill for Price’s relentless public relations campaigns. The media romance among Keegan, Inc., and Price was by irrefutably by design. Price would regularly feed Keegan fluff pieces and instruct him on how to overcome any negative press, whereupon Keegan leveraged Inc. and other high-profile print platforms as propaganda arms.
An anonymous source alerted me to internal emails between Price and Keegan. Beyond his stunning inclusion of lies and exaggerations throughout a series of articles penned about Price, Keegan and Inc. not only agreed to offer Price reverential treatment for the sake of weathering naysayers, but in a brazen demonstration of quid pro quo, Keegan also requested that he be employed to write Price's book.
This level of media manipulation would set the tone for Price's brilliant control over his own narrative, an extraordinary master class in misdirection that has all but suffocated serious allegations of professional and personal abuses. He has lied about how he launched a career in the credit card industry. He has lied about being the most "truthful and transparent" credit card processor, when in fact he is in one of the least. He has lied about how he is able to undercut competitive pricing; he has committed fraud for years. He has lied about his salary, claiming at one point it was $50K when it was more than one million. He has lied about his brother's lawsuit against him. He has lied to thousands of customers about his business practices. And by the looks of all the evidence in my possession, he seemingly lied about battering his ex-wife.
Whether it's with a spoonful of sugar or a handful of rocks, Price still does his best to gerrymander media perspective, especially that which is less than favorable. This particular tweet arrived not long after I requested an interview with him to discuss documents which iterated his abuses.
Thank you to everyone in journalism and publishing. I know I’m critical of you at times, but you make the world a better place. Even my nemesis journalists out there!— Dan Price (@DanPriceSeattle) April 19, 2018
Over and again, Price assured media outlets that his wage hike “would set the world on fire.” The truth is, nobody has ever actually made Facebook’s 180,000-server platform “unusable.” And since Price became the world’s first celebrity payment processor, his pledges of global game-changing have proved impotent, at best.
Wall Street earnings skyrocketed. Main street earnings stagnated. The top 1 percent now controls almost 40 percent of America’s wealth. Not to mention, out of the “hundreds and hundreds” of CEOs who, according to Price, assured him they would reshape their pay policies based upon his munificent example, only a handful of small business chiefs actually rose to the occasion, citing him as their muse.
#MeToo, #WomensMarch, and #TimesUpNow arrived with a sonic boom. Yet, women still occupy less than 20 percent of Congressional seats, 25 percent of college presidencies, 7 percent of CEO jobs at Fortune 1000s, and 3 percent of Board of Directors seats at Fortune 500s. Women also still earn 79 cents on a male dollar.
Donald Trump was elected president, absorbed by many as an unbridled indictment of a black man who previously occupied a White House and also a rigid index finger pointed squarely at women whom he objectified, vilified, and denied. Trump decided to pay female staffers 72 cents on the male dollar. He is an admitted sexual predator who honors women with identifiers such as fat, pig, dog, slob, disgusting animal, piece of ass, pancake tits, gold-digger, bitch, and bimbo. He also thinks, “putting women to work is a dangerous thing.”
Following the exodus of White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter whose two ex-wives provided convincing proof of his abusive behavior, Trump said, “It's obviously a very tough time for him. He says he's innocent, and I think you have to remember that.” Trump later took to the safe confines of Twitter where he exclaimed, “People’s lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”
A protracted breadcrumb trail of public statements indicates that Trump does not believe or support survivors of abuse unless they serve a purpose. Women are believed to be the liars and men the victims. He disbelieves nine women connected to accused child molester Roy Moore, six women connected to Bill O’Reilly, six women connected to Roger Ailes, two women connected to former Press Secretary Rob Porter, and 19 women who have accused Trump himself of sexual harassment and other related transgressions. Trump previously wailed, “Why doesn’t @washingtonpost report the story of the women taking money to make up stories about me?”
Ivanka Trump concurs. “I think it’s a pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter if she believes the accusers of her father when he’s affirmatively stated there’s no truth to it,” she exclaimed. Although Ivanka eagerly said of Roy Moore, “There’s a special place on hell for people who prey on children.” It remains unclear if she watched her father tell a 10-year-old on national TV, “I’m going to be dating her in 10 years, can you believe it?” In a separate incident, Trump was heard telling a few 14-year-old chorale singers, “Wow! Just think, in a couple years, I’ll be dating you.”
Six months after Dan Price made his famed wage pitch, Kristie Colón was scheduled to make a statement of her own. Chances are, not a single one of the hundred purple lecture seats at the University of Kentucky’s Davis Marksbury Building Theater was occupied by a venture capitalist, a corporate titan, or a major media operative.
But neither audience pedigree nor far-reaching anxiety would keep Kristie from showing up to explain why her speaker bio declared, “Kristie was married at 20, divorced at 27, and lived through a relationship that was abusive in every sense of the word.”
Her roughly 10-minute TEDx Talk underscored how writing had been a means to surmount severe personal trauma. More than halfway through the address, Kristie read a 2006 excerpt from her journal. “He started punching me in the stomach and slapped me across the face. I was shaking so bad.” She recounted the night when, with no shoes and no phone, she escaped to a bone-chilling parking garage where 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.”
Despite the fact that Kristie’s stark accounts of domestic violence comprised a mere scrap of the entire speech, and despite the fact that she never mentioned her accuser by name, that moment, her moment, would also soon make its way around the planet at the speed of sound.
Dan Price met Kristie Colón while a Nampa Christian High School sophomore in southwest Idaho. Kristie was the new girl. Price was a bit of a catch. The two became fast friends, then dated, then married. Shortly after they vowed “for better or for worse,” it seems as if worse became a near-daily reckoning for Kristie.
More than six years after Kristie filed for divorce, Price has since repeatedly received paychecks, honoraria, airfare, limo services, hotel rooms, meals, drinks, privileged access, celebrity endorsements, and global stages to tell millions of folks why his message mattered, why he was a worthy influencer.
Price also plausibly tortured a woman he promised to love, comfort, and champion. In response to inquiries about the abuse, Price repeatedly offered ambiguous explanations, thereby effectively branding the survivor, Ms. Colón, a prodigious phony.
My deductions are based upon confidential documents that I have pored over and done my very best to vet. I do not have the consent of the parties who provided such proof to either incorporate excerpts herein or discuss the nature of any related interviews or additional correspondence at this time.
What I am able to divulge is that said documentation affords highly detailed accounts of abuse and manipulation, all of which were exceptionally hard to digest. That said, to actually endure such acts is something of another stratum altogether. Full disclosure, having family members who have survived such brutality, I can say with the utmost confidence that survivors (and those who know their stories) may choose to disclose their accounts in anonymity, but they remain as courageous as those who publicly avail themselves.
Dragged by the ankles. Dropped onto hardwood floors. Near-drowned in tubs. Smashed into walls. Bashed with objects. Strangled. Slapped. Kicked. Days and nights hiding under beds, in closets, in cars. Strapped over a lap, repeatedly slapped like a battered child for being unworthy, unthinking, unbalanced. Forced to make unsustainable concessions. Extramarital sex for him. Isolation for her. Ongoing PTSD that affects career decisions, personal relationships. And the list of abuses goes on.
Dan Price is a highly intelligent, young man. He speaks a language that has resonated from Sydney to Sao Paolo. His drive is undeniable. His accomplishments are plentiful. It would be categorically unjust to dismiss him simply because of ideology or idiosyncrasy.
Abundant video and social musings also prove that Price is supremely artful in deploying benevolence or social consciousness means for stoking his own renown. This is his right. Regardless, a considerable portion of his self-promotional ploys are unconventional if not enigmatic. For instance, he consistently promotes the idea that his renowned wage hike has increased not just production, but reproduction. "As a CEO, you could never find anything to be more proud of than the fact that we are bringing humans onto the planet," Price proclaimed. Furthermore, numerous examples showcase his desire to be heralded as an exceptionally venerated employer and human being.
As we know, many talented, accomplished, wealthy men believe that money, authority, and exposure afford them unlimited latitude to rupture lives. As we also now know, women have heaved a gigantic hatchet at the heart of this perennial gender-based civil rights perversion.
Price may be a product of his times. It comes as no surprise that a considerable slice of the population arches toward an incessant desire to be known, to be heard, to be influential, to be relevant. Yes, social platforms can be apt devices for production or promotion or proclamation, but they have also become open invitations to eavesdrop on once exclusive happenings in kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, and offices. Sharing intimate moments with a world unknown is part and parcel of a dangerously rapt generation. As one of six children, raising one's voice above the fray can certainly have been a survival instinct for Dan Price. His social media engagements have afforded him the megaphone to achieve such an end.
Kristie Colón also grew up in a large household that included four children. And though she deploys writing to assuage angst, it remains unclear as to how she draws privacy lines, especially in light of her avid sharing via Twitter, Instagram, and her own blog, the lot of which bare engagements with her inner circle for all the world to see.
In early November 2015, Inc. Magazine ran a cover story on Price titled, “Is This The Best Boss In America?”
By late November, a Bloomberg Businessweek reporter questioned Price about potentially darker motives for his wage hike. She also inquired about Kristie Colón’s allegations. Price initially refrained from responding, because “he wouldn’t feel comfortable.” A few hours later, he called back with, “The events that you described never happened.”
Price did not specify which events never happened.
On December 3, 2015, Price released a public statement to The Guardian. “We’ve been floored at the attention our story has gotten over the past year, and inspired by the millions all around the globe who have engaged and shared their stories with us. Unfortunately, people in the public eye are subject to speculation and criticism. The recent story in Businessweek contained reckless accusations and baseless speculations that are unequivocally false. As a company, we’ve faced many challenges in our history. This has been a truly memorable year in many ways. We’re looking forward to working harder than ever in pursuit of our mission.”
Influencing “millions around the globe” with his “story” was apparently more important to Dan Price than explaining what in particular had been “unequivocally false.” He had also officially pronounced himself a victim of worldwide devotion.
On December 17, 2015, Price told Entrepreneur Magazine he was “shocked at the allegations from Bloomberg Businessweek, and I don’t have any evidence that there are actual allegations, but the information that Bloomberg Businessweek claimed to have relayed to me is completely false.”
Yet, there were in fact allegations made by a woman he had known for the lion’s share of his life. Price had propped up not having “any evidence” as an escape hatch; a familiar trope of those pinned against the wall by truth laid bare.
In May of 2016, Dan Price walked passed older brother Lucas en route to the witness stand where he swore to tell the whole truth and nothing but.
Among six Price siblings, Lucas was Dan’s lifelong wingman. He co-founded Gravity Payments in 2004 and served as best man when Dan married Kristie a year later.
By 2008, things had changed. Dan apparently began making critical business decisions without Lucas’ knowledge or consent. Lucas also believed Dan was ceaselessly tapping company revenues like a personal ATM. Litigation became the only recourse. Lucas sued for minority shareholder oppression and unjust enrichment. In other words, he contended that Dan not only shuttered his position but also pinched excessive amounts of cash without consent.
Dan told anyone who would listen that this lawsuit was a vengeful retort to the $70K wage hike. Lucas was deemed nothing more than a greedy freeloader looking for an outrageous payout. The problem with this assertion was that Dan received his summons a month before his announcement. Contrarily, Dan emailed Lucas about the wage hike only four days before he stepped to the mic whereafter his name became news.
These facts did not matter to Paul Keegan of Inc. who penned, “The suit was filed on April 24, 11 days after the pay-raise announcement—perhaps to pressure Dan to sell when Gravity was in the limelight, thus maximizing the value of Lucas's share.” All Keegan had to do was pull court documents--as any cub reporter would--in order to see that Dan was served on March 16 at 1:25 p.m. Inc. never retracted. Keegan never apologized.
When challenged by Lucas’ attorney, Dan said it was a “misstatement.” When asked, under oath, as to whether or not he ever assaulted his ex-wife, Dan refused to answer. It should be noted that Dan Price prevailed in the suit, much to the chagrin of a shell-shocked Lucas who has since expressed interest in an appeal.
By June of 2016, veteran journalist Stephen Rodrick was knee-deep in a two-week on-location interview of Price, including mornings and afternoons spent at the courthouse where the Price brothers battled. Rodrick's exposé eventually made its way to Esquire Magazine in August. At first, Price denied Kristie’s allegations “forcefully” but then offered Rodrick a disturbing clarification. "The honest truth of it is, there's only two people on earth that know. You could spend ten years with me and you still wouldn't know."
Lucas Price later told Rodrick, "There have been times when I've sat with Dan, when he's told me something so earnestly that I know is not true, and I think to myself, this must be true. "
On August 11, 2016 NBC’s Today asked Price about the abuse. “There’s no truth to it,” he asserted.
Price’s pithy answers might have flown under the radar in 2016. But, this is 2018. Enigmatic responses to allegations of brutality are not soon forgotten, let alone forgiven. The primary reason #MeToo is ubiquitous is because innumerable instances of gender-based oppression finally reached critical mass. The reactor blew. Men scrambled toward shadows. Women dragged them out. And, they will keep dragging.
Regardless, Dan Price chose to tell the world that Kristie Colón made the whole thing up. She crafted an elaborate, reckless con that caused considerable harm to a righteous soul.
Perhaps he believed that his global fame post-marriage caused her to become infinitely resentful. Perhaps he believed that she wanted a piece of his ever-growing financial pie. Perhaps he believed his ambitions to be pure, hers polluted.
Here are the facts.
Kristie divorced Price in 2012, six-and-a-half years after the two slid symbolic rings onto each other’s slight fingers. Other than Dan buying her out of her share of the quaint condo they co-owned in the North Queen Anne district of Seattle and driving away in the car that she solely owned, Kristie wanted nothing except to leave and not look back.
Following a few years in a San Francisco suburb, Kristie moved east where she currently leads a relatively quiet, seemingly pleasant life closer to family. She travels the world on her own dime. She works as a content writer. She is engaged to be married. She adores her dog. And, she commands a social writing/journaling hub where she and contributors continue to deploy short essays as a means to “own your story.”
Six months after Price became a media darling and six and a half years after Kristie left him, she hopped a plane from her modest west coast apartment to the University of Kentucky (UK) where her videotaped TEDx Talk commenced.
On December 4, Kristie’s bio page mysteriously disappeared. Her video did not go live. Her public moment of catharsis all but vanished in the deep of night.
Having already been immersed in this Price story since his wage announcement (for reasons that will follow), I first tweeted the development in what would be a vain attempt to obtain an explanation. I subsequently contacted Margaret Sullivan from Group SJR, the production partner for TED Talks. She replied, “TEDx websites and questions about if/when TEDx talks get published to YouTube is entirely up to the individual TEDx organizers, so you’d have to ask them directly.”
I contacted Tori Amason who organized the University of Kentucky TEDx event where Kristie presented. Tori replied, “Please contact UKPR for any inquiries you have.” I finally landed a call with the Director of the Main Campus News Bureau Kathy Johnson. She confirmed that associates of Dan Price had indeed dangled a threat of legal action before the university. Ms. Johnson later issued a formal statement through university counsel confirming that the video was unobtainable, the bio page dumped, and the matter closed.
By the looks of things, more women were charged with covering tracks for more men.
Shortly after Kristie’s UK appearance, Price had set a Sturm und Drang offensive in motion. Ryan Pirkle is not only Marketing Director at Gravity Payments but also primary gatekeeper for Price. Pirkle and I knew each other. A month after Price’s $70K minimum wage play, a TV and movie director friend and I engaged with Pirkle in an active dialog about launching a documentary series to track the socio-economic effects of Price’s decision. Pirkle recommended that "we move forward."
To prep the project, I took a look at all things Dan Price. It was not long before I tumbled down a rabbit hole fraught with evidence of illicit business practices, disturbing lawsuits, and a fortress full of lies. By November, a month before the Businessweek piece published, I had aggregated enough dubious content involving Price and company to question the project on hold. I called Pirkle during the first week of December and posited a wealth of pointed questions. He refused to answer every last one of them. Immediately thereafter, I officially pulled the plug.
Though Pirkle appears to be a relatively unassuming if not obliging figure, he is no less than a dutiful Price disciple. Pirkle was the very foot soldier who stormed the UK with, “It has come to our attention our company’s CEO, Dan Price, was mentioned in a TEDx speech given by Kristie Colon on 10/28 by an article on Bloomberg.com. The article described content within the speech that is categorically untrue, and potentially defamatory. We’ve been advised to review the speech prior to posting to ensure the content within is not defamatory in nature. Please send a streaming link or download link to this video immediately.”
Dan Price's time to bask in the warm glow of notoriety was suddenly eclipsed by Kristie’s time to exhume demons after years of repressing them. Her trials had evidently interrupted Price’s global PR triumphs.
In what is best described as a stunning outcome, UK management and TEDx organizers relented. Everything associated with Kristie’s talk was wiped clean. A university with a total enrollment of 30,000, 16 colleges, 93 undergrad programs, 66 doctoral programs, 15 libraries, thousands of faculty and staff, and a $1.2 billion endowment buckled under a threat they did not bother to substantiate made by someone they did not know.
TED overlords vigorously promote their 6 billion video views worldwide and their lofty tagline, “Ideas worth spreading.” Though independent organizers run TEDx events, the organization nonetheless stipulates every do and every don’t for every TEDx event, as one can plainly see by visiting their lavish rules page. Despite the fact that free speech is the high-octane fuel that powers the organization's immense engine, TED affiliates ultimately suffocated Kristie Colón’s expression thereof. In no less than an exposition of tragic irony, the theme for the night of Kristie’s engagement happened to be “Dimensions of Progress.”
Once the dust cleared, Kristie confessed, “A man [Pirkle] I’ve never met confidently followed up with the institution that hosted my talk and told them my truth was ‘categorically untrue.’ I wish I had been surprised. Phrases like ‘potential defamation lawsuit’ and ‘disgusting things claimed’ were being texted, emailed, and phoned in to me. Basically, it was an introvert’s worst nightmare.”
This is what survivors suffer. The very ones they love, trust, comfort, and support suddenly deem them the imposter, the hypocrite, the depraved, the provocateur. Or, as author-poet R.H. Sin submits, “And she was made to go crazy by the man who put her there.”
Victims of abuse must forever forge their way through funnels of fear ... fear of physical repercussions, psychological repercussions, professional repercussions, financial repercussions, and social repercussions.
My grandfather beat the daylights out of my grandmother and his own son while my mother watched. Why? Because he could. Because the house was not tidy. Because the ham was lukewarm. Because work was not profitable enough. Because the sun rose in the east and set in the west.
Abuse is not logical, especially when it involves known quantities with unknown qualities. Abuse asphyxiates order and scrambles reason. Abuse gives nuclear launch codes to barbarians. Abuse comes in flesh and bone packages of all shapes and sizes, including those that resemble the original hipster who walked on water.
Dan Price does not walk on water. Yet, he does delight in piloting his beloved yacht upon it. He is not a religious leader. Yet, years of video, print, and anecdotal evidence illustrate how fixated he is on converting souls in exchange for profit, publicity, and nonstop personal praise. He was not taken to the house of the high priest to be judged. Yet, multiple legal actions have been waged against him, including those by an employer, an employee, a business, an innocent bystander, a city, a wife, and a brother.
Dan Price has not been mercilessly tortured for being categorically kind. Yet, administering such torture is something he seemingly knows well.
Late in 2016, Kristie Colón recounted, “This past year I spoke about an abusive relationship that nearly killed me. I shared my story as a survivor to help others with their recovery.”
She held a TEDx Talk clear across the country from Price. She could have held that talk in Seattle -- a stone’s throw from Gravity Payments -- or the quaint condo where she and Price lived as husband and wife before fame reigned supreme.
Kristie did not alert numerous mass media outlets in advance of her speech. Price alerts media at every turn. She made a brief, unpaid speech to 100 attendees who knew nothing about her or her previous marriage. Price has made countless speeches, many of which garnered handsome fees. Kristie could have invoked his name during her speech. Price ceaselessly invokes his own name.
Kristie could have easily expounded upon her ex-husband’s malevolence. Price himself has actually hinted at such behavior. He told Brown University students and faculty that he “could be a violent person in some ways.” He often says of competitors, “…until you kill us or we kill you” or “they are spending a lot of money trying to kill us.” When discussing qualities of potential new hires, Price has repeatedly referenced Che Guevara and his recruitment of guerrilla freedom fighters who pledged love for the cause and ultimately for him.
In 2012, Leslie Morgan Steiner gave her own TEDx Talk. Ironically, the speech happened to be in greater Seattle, not long after Kristie Colón divorced Dan Price. Ms. Steiner not only earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Harvard College and a Master of Business Administration from The Wharton School, but she pioneered a celebrated professional path working for iconic brands including Johnson & Johnson and The Washington Post Magazine.
Similar to Kristie, Ms. Steiner was quite young (22) when she moved to a big city in pursuit of a fulfilling professional challenge. She eventually made a profound connection with a fellow subway rider who would become the love of her life. He too graduated from an Ivy League school after which he became gainfully employed by a Wall Street bank. But not all was what is seemed. Ms. Steiner recounts:
“But what made the biggest impression on me was that he was smart and funny. And he seemed so sweet. That Ivy League degree, and that Wall Street job, and that bright, shiny future meant so much to him. If you had told me that this smart, funny, sensitive man who adored me, would one day dictate whether or not I wore makeup, how short my skirts were, where I lived, what jobs I took, who my friends were, and where I spent Christmas, I would have laughed at you. I didn’t know that the first stage in any domestic violence relationship is to seduce and charm the victim, and I also didn’t know that the second step is to isolate the victim. The man who I thought was my soul mate, the man who I loved more than anybody on earth held a gun to my head and threatened to kill me more times than I can even remember.”
Paige Flink is CEO of The Family Place in Dallas, Texas, one of the Lone Star State's first family violence service agencies. Her February 2018 piece in HuffPost addressed the controversy surrounding Rob Porter, Trump’s embattled former Press Secretary. Flink explained, “Many batterers are like Porter, a well-educated and well-off professional power player who is a far cry from the crude stereotype. Many domestic abusers, regardless of socioeconomic status, move among us undetected: men who seem to be in total control, who are tightly wound. The typical batterer is charismatic, manipulative, and demanding of certain behavior. The more traditional the views their relationship was built on, the more reluctant the women were to leave.”
Dan Price and Kristie Colón were raised in devout households with traditional views of relationships. Price was home-schooled until the age of 12. Mornings were devoured by hours of bible study. Rush Limbaugh raged over the radio. Disgust over "living in sin" was palpable; therefore, shared living was acceptable if and only if it were coupled with a pledge that marriage waited just around the corner.
Flink concluded, “We cannot allow abusers who refuse to be accountable rise to positions of power. We cannot let them live their lives, or shape the face of our nation, without first facing the truth.”
But, Dan Price did, in fact, rise to power. And converts keep piling up thanks to NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Bernie Sanders, Trevor Noah, corporate moguls, Harvard professors, and the list goes on ad nauseam.
Paul Keegan's take on Kristie was predictable. He contended, “She did not challenge the [Inc.] story's characterization of her marriage to Dan as ending amicably.”
Most would wonder how someone like Price, who claims to pilot a profoundly virtuous path, could ever be capable of something so barbaric. Not to mention, why would Kristie stay with someone whom she considered to be potentially life-threatening?
Women 16-24 are most likely to be beaten. Kristie was in her early 20s when the beatings were to have occured. 50 percent of these survivors receive considerable injuries like those Kristie described. 66 percent do not seek medical attention. Kristie did not seek medical attention. 75 percent do not report incidents to authorities. Kristie did not report any incidents. 98 percent of domestic violence cases include financial abuse. The number one reason survivors stay or return is based on that fact that the abuser controls their money supply. Documentation points to the fact that Kristie’s financial life was controlled by Price.
Kristie typifies survivors. She blamed herself. She Googled “suicide.” She placed her feet on the very edge of that proverbial cliff. In the long run, introspection, support systems, and formidable resolve enabled Kristie Colón to march forward regardless of indelible damage.
She took to her stage, like Ms. Steiner did, simply because she believed it was an appropriate time to help others who might relate to such cruelty; to prevent abusers from endangering more women. After years of emotional torment, this was supposed to be her moment to speak up without enduring further assaults for doing so.
Sadly, she was wrong.
Those assaults kept coming from The University of Kentucky, TEDx, Gravity Payments staffers who never questioned their boss, women who knew she was married to Price and still slept with him, and by media outlets that propped up Price for years yet largely refused to explore potential depravity.
Some of those who believe Kristie remain unwilling or unready to face Price head on. This is expected, especially considering the prospect of facing legal threats from someone with deep coffers and widespread adoration. One of Price’s early professional confidants, who wished to remain anonymous, explained, “Dan wants to be loved, respected, and a mentor. But he is selling credit card processing. He is a nuts and bolts company. There is so much more to being a great employer than wages.” He added, “Dan got a divorce and seemed unaffected by it. I believe his ex-wife’s story.”
Other than an initial teaser by Businessweek and a more robust follow-up by Geekwire, Kristie’s story did indeed fizzle like so many stories before.
Stephen Rodrick (Esquire journalist) trailed Price over two rollicking weeks. He bunked at Price’s house, shadowed him at $10,000 buy-in poker games populated by dotcom magnates, shared tapas dinners, consorted with Price on wilderness walks, partied poolside with Gravity Payments staffers, and mulled about in the courthouse where the Price brothers waged an all-out civil war over heaps of money.
Rodrick’s insider survey was spicy; his take on Price, less than flattering, although muddying. The problem is, Price could not have cared less. Rodrick’s illustrious list of previous interviewees includes the likes of Tom Petty, Sting, Chris Rock, Serena Williams, Leo DiCaprio, Robert Redford, Ringo Starr et al. All that mattered to Dan Price was that he tread among royalty.
In the end, Rodrick’s zippy, day-in-the-life account did not address why Price might brutalize a wife, bilk millions from an industry, rabidly offer up bald-faced lies, and get away with all of it.
Rodrick's intro declared, "Last year, Seattle start-up CEO Dan Price slashed his $1 million salary in order to raise his company's minimum wage to $70,000 a year. Overnight, he became a media darling and a folk hero for Millennials. Then things got weird. His brother sued him for fraud. His ex-wife gave a TED Talk in which she accused him of abuse. And now the question remains: Is Dan Price a sinner or a savior?"
Rodrick failed to understand that Price didn't slash his salary to pay the raised wage. Things were not suddenly "weird." In fact, they had been unsettling long before Rodrick and other journalists paid attention to the young man. Ultimately, Price did to Rodrick what he adroitly does to many. He seduces even the most seasoned literati with the idea that a devil’s greatest trick is not to convince them that he doesn’t exist, but to actually put on one helluva show while they are in town.
Dan Price believed that oblique repudiations of serious allegations were sufficient. But when you consider how far we have come since 2015, such insolence reeks of culpability. Today, we would expect Price's response to be something such as:
“Since the #MeToo movement took off, I have been both horrified and heartened to hear the stories of women who are finally coming forward to share their stories. Hopefully, this increased awareness will bring about meaningful change and we can live in a world where, as Oprah declared in her recent Golden Globes speech, “Nobody ever has to say ‘me too’ again. Your time and energy would be better spent listening to these women’s stories and believing any accusations that directly involve you, your company, or those around and take the time to consider how you can rectify the situation. Dishonesty cannot thrive in cultures that value honesty and in which all parties treat one another with mutual respect. In an unlikely event that someone is falsely accused, remember that it will be much easier to overcome false allegations than it will be for actual victims to overcome the trauma of harassment or assault.”
Interestingly enough, these words were actually written by Dan Price in a January 2018 LinkedIn article. The premise of his piece titled “Confused about the #MeToo Movement? Maybe the Problem is Lack of Trust,” is that “business leaders” such as Price must understand “the upside of supporting this movement, and trusting your people to tell the truth is always greater than the downside.”
Millions of women are being punched for not washing dishes, strangled for not ironing, and drowned for having an opinion. A few years after Kristie divorced Price, he accumulated substantial sums of money and renown and continues to spend days and nights telling the world of his compassion, his kindness, and his keen admiration for the women on his staff.
One can hardly imagine Kristie reading those passages in that LinkedIn article upon which 286 commenters stamped their approval for its “touching” perspective; for its “wise words;” for Price being an “advocate” and an “ally;” and for “empathizing with women.”
Kristie was in an airport lobby when she passed a newsstand where her ex’s sunny countenance conquered the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine, a 40-year-old publication with a combined circulation of four million. Her instinct was to rip every issue top to bottom, but instead of having to buy it, she somehow summoned the strength to read on.
Four months later, Price turned what easily could have been a private company announcement into a carefully staged, saccharine sweet affair that doubled as a clarion call for C-suite types to remove their alligator skin loafers from the throats of Main Streeters. He could do no wrong.
The grief and rage and bewilderment competing for Kristie’s attention was palpable in her journaling.
The man who apparently assaulted her, humiliated her, cheated on her, psychologically tormented her—that same man was now a world-class hero.
“Watching bad people thrive is a Thing,” Kristie maintained. “It happens. A person we know—a boss, a parent, a congressman, a pastor—does something utterly reprehensible, and we are left wondering. Did that just happen? Did no one else see? Is something wrong with me? When does good win? Where is justice? Some days it feels as if ‘The Men on The Cover’ are the only ones winning. And us? We are lost, confused, frustrated, and angry. We are standing in front of a wall we can’t climb.”
It was well over a decade ago when Kristie Colón left her beloved family to be with Dan Price. She all but shuddered her own aspirations to support his; even delaying college graduation by a year to accommodate his marriage proposal.
Her reward? “I married a man I thought might kill me,” she declared. “Bad people accomplish good things. I have seen abusers fight for better wages. I’ve seen cruel individuals champion benevolent causes. Over and over, I have seen how, for some, the end justifies the means. And I have experienced firsthand how these means are often at the expense of women. This is my America.”
For those who believe Kristie to be waxing dramatic, according to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, “If your partner has strangled you in the past, your risk of being killed by them is 10 times higher.” Steve Albrecht has authored 17 books on workplace, campus, and domestic violence. He maintains, “One in four women will experience intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lifetimes, and of women at high risk, up to 68 percent will experience near-fatal strangulation by their partner.”
55 percent of female homicide incidents are connected to IPV, which also accounts for over $8.3 billion annually for medical costs, psychological treatment, loss of household support, loss of work, loss of income.
At least 4-8 percent of pregnant women suffer abuse during pregnancy, according to the National Institutes of Health. Kristie became pregnant a year into her chaotic marriage. She miscarried less than a month later. “Huge, blow-up fights” ensued, she said.
Four-and-a-half years ago, Price was arrested for assault, criminal trespass, and property destruction. A restraining order was also issued against him. Dressed in all white, drunk, and alone, he accosted people at a Seattle bar and then ran from the scene as authorities were called.
Stephen Rodrick’s Esquire exposé briefly addressed the fact the he “knew from ex-employees and court documents that [Price] had a male monster of the id hiding behind the fashionable hair and beard."
I can corroborate this. A year before Rodrick’s piece hit the street, I had already interviewed former staffers and devoured hundreds of pages of court documents, all of which conveyed a consistent portrait of Price's malevolence, regardless of what his public persona might portend. I wrote about this in 2016.
Price had been known to call meetings for the sake of humiliating employees in front of peers. He would deem them to be "a cancer" on his corporate culture. He demeaned in ways that were deeply affecting. One female employee was reported to have taken a leave of absence to abate severe duress. Another described how Price physically accosted a customer prospect. Another recalled how Price demanded sales reps lead sales calls by sharing brochures and business cards plastered with his headshots, lifestyle shots, and accolades. The Gravity Payments website is rife with real estate dedicated to Dan Price, the “celebrated entrepreneur.” And, nearly all sources referred to his deeply cunning harassment and relentless self-promotion.
Lawsuits brought against Price from 2004-2016 consistently reveal a pattern of settlements with non-disclosures, typical of a man who acts dreadfully but has the power and currency to keep victims silent. I interviewed six payment processing professionals, including CEOs from three large corporations, all of whom knew Price and believed him to be shamelessly self-righteous if not Machiavellian.
It is hard to fathom how a CEO who gave his entire company a minimum pay rate of $70K could be anything less than principled. His Twitter posts, LinkedIn articles, speeches, and interviews exemplify the yearnings of an unyielding altruist who spreads his gospel with aplomb.
One must only wonder how Gravity Payments personnel could fail to worship their CEO since they pooled portions of the very same raises that Price afforded them two years earlier in order to gift him with a brand new Tesla. They bought a sports car for a man with a yacht, a huge house, an immense salary, and a rolodex filled with power-players. As one former operations staffer told me, “There is a strange cult-like atmosphere at Gravity. Dan thinks he has been chosen.” The fact that multiple professional cameras, press folks, and marketing staffers are always at-the-ready to exhibit such glorification makes for curiously recurring happenstance.
Approximately half of Gravity Payments' payroll is comprised of women. Price has spent a great deal of time feverishly praising them since Kristie Colón’s allegations hit the presses. In fact, a 10-part blog series titled “Women in Leadership” happened to be created in the months after Kristie’s revelations of abuse. Price also offered up another series titled "Embracing Diversity" just last year.
National, regional, and local media folks have interviewed numerous female and male staffers about Price. Gravity women staffers have not requested that Price publicly state something akin to, “I never beat my ex-wife.” To date, not one staffer has challenged Price's account of the matter; therefore, it is yet known if they believe Kristie to have repeatedly lied about their boss or if they are exceedingly worried about the consequences of challenging him. Incidentally, not one of the thousands of Gravity Payments merchants has weighed in.
Dan Price's father Ron Price also repudiated the domestic violence allegations. Ron said the allegations, “came as a complete shock to us” and that he doesn't "have any evidence that ever occurred."
Ron’s reaction should come as no surprise, since his response to the venomous $26 million lawsuit between his very own sons was, “I guess I’m a little more stoic about it. Even though I wouldn’t want it to play out like this, I realize life is messy.” Life was messy for Ron when the FDA harangued him for running a pyramid scheme in which he and his accomplices who helmed American Image Marketing (of which Ron was President at one time) targeted vulnerable populations with bogus herbal products such as "Barley Green" that were supposed to ward off cancer, arthritis, high blood pressure, obesity, and depression through "extensive research" and "divine connections." In fact, Ron peddled these assertions without a shred of scientific evidence. Dan Price recently told YPO (Young President's Organization) that Ron has had the "greatest impact" on him as a leader.
I have made numerous attempts to speak with the Prices and Mr. Pirkle about Kristie Colón’s accusations and about Dan’s illicit business practices. I left a phone message for Dan Price as recently as April 6. I also reached out to Dan's COO and second-in-command, Tammi Kroll, who left a high-profile executive job at Yahoo! to join Gravity, because she was deeply affected by Price's crusade.
To date, Price, Pirkle, and Kroll have accepted interview invitations from global networks to regional bloggers. They have refused to comment about my allegations, with the exception of one text from Price that read, "Love you man. I'm a big proponent of free speech. I generally follow my conscience, and I hope you do as well! Happy 4th!"
My invitation to meet remains open.
Price and Pirkle have yet to deny a single allegation I have set before them.
A mountain of evidence also points to a fraud scheme in which Price has bilked the credit card industry of tens of millions of dollars. The perennially embattled Wells Fargo, a long-term Gravity Payments financial sponsor, is implicated in this scam. This story will be released in the near term.
Finally, I have had conversations with The New York Times, The Seattle Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, other major and regional media, and even notable film production companies. Many have expressed considerable interest in aforementioned findings. None have yet to commit to further exploration, largely because they either require me to hand over documents with no guarantee of attribution, or they are not willing to invest resources, regardless of their robust coverage of Price to date. My invitation to partner with them also remains open.
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