22 votes

The boss who put everyone on $70,000 minimum salary

39 comments

  1. [19]
    Eric_the_Cerise
    Link
    I remember when this story first came out. I'm really glad to see this "5 years later" update. It also makes me realize that I REALLY, REALLY wish that so much more of the news we see day-to-day...

    I remember when this story first came out. I'm really glad to see this "5 years later" update.

    It also makes me realize that I REALLY, REALLY wish that so much more of the news we see day-to-day were this kind of story ... that is, "you remember that thing in the news 'X' years ago? Here's an update" — kind of stories.

    I have no idea what the actual metrics are, but it feels like well over 90% of news items never get any follow-up. They just fall off the nat'l attention span, never to be heard from again.

    15 votes
    1. [2]
      rkcr
      Link Parent
      A couple podcasts I listen to (Planet Money and Reply All) do annual update episodes, where they follow up on past stories that have new developments.

      A couple podcasts I listen to (Planet Money and Reply All) do annual update episodes, where they follow up on past stories that have new developments.

      6 votes
      1. ThatFanficGuy
        Link Parent
        Would you recommend Reply All? Whatever the answer: why?

        Would you recommend Reply All? Whatever the answer: why?

        1 vote
    2. [12]
      Loire
      Link Parent
      Its an interesting story, and I'm glad we got an update to see it worked out. Everyone knew the likes of Rush Limbaugh claiming it wouldn't work were morons. I do question this guy cutting his pay...

      Its an interesting story, and I'm glad we got an update to see it worked out. Everyone knew the likes of Rush Limbaugh claiming it wouldn't work were morons.

      I do question this guy cutting his pay to the minimum though, to the point where he has to AirBnB his house and his employees have to crowd fund him a car. I understand he's trying to set wn example but he's the brainchild, founder and CEO of the company, he can make a couple thousand more than the junior sales rep. Theres a wide gap between making 300x the average employee and breaking 100k.

      6 votes
      1. [6]
        mrbig
        Link Parent
        He still had a working car, and I bet "a beautiful house overlooking Seattle's Puget Sound" still generates more than enough money. When you remove the harsh-capitalism distortion lens, it's...

        He still had a working car, and I bet "a beautiful house overlooking Seattle's Puget Sound" still generates more than enough money.

        When you remove the harsh-capitalism distortion lens, it's people helping people. Maybe we should be doing more of that.

        Besides, the fact that his employees pooled money for a car is a strong indication that:

        • they have disposable income
        • approve of him as a boss and as a human being

        Both great wins.

        5 votes
        1. [5]
          Loire
          Link Parent
          I mean I agree with all of this in general, I just don't see the need for every single employee at every tier to make exactly the same amount. Yes the minimum income should be at a livable level,...

          I mean I agree with all of this in general, I just don't see the need for every single employee at every tier to make exactly the same amount. Yes the minimum income should be at a livable level, such as 70k or whatever is necessary for that area but that doesn't mean the CEO needs to make the minimum level, as long as he isn't making some absurd amount either.

          4 votes
          1. [4]
            mrbig
            Link Parent
            That's exactly what happened. The title of the original article is misleading, but it was fixed for this thread. BESIDES: The owner has more to gain than a salary, like company valuation. Does the...

            Yes the minimum income should be at a livable level, such as 70k or whatever is necessary

            That's exactly what happened. The title of the original article is misleading, but it was fixed for this thread.

            BESIDES:

            • The owner has more to gain than a salary, like company valuation.

            • Does the article actually say how much he makes? Cause I couldn't find it. He took a cut of $1m, but unless he earned exactly 1'070'000 before, I doubt that's what he's making.

            1. [3]
              Loire
              Link Parent

              Five years later, Price is still on Gravity's minimum salary. He says he's more fulfilled than he ever was when he was earning millions though it's not all easy.

              3 votes
              1. [2]
                mrbig
                Link Parent
                I see. Does that mean there are employees making more than the CEO himself?

                I see. Does that mean there are employees making more than the CEO himself?

                1 vote
                1. Loire
                  Link Parent
                  I imagine some must be. I doubt the entirety of the C-Suite were willing to take the minimum salary just to prove a point.

                  I imagine some must be. I doubt the entirety of the C-Suite were willing to take the minimum salary just to prove a point.

                  3 votes
      2. [2]
        MimicSquid
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        His salary is comparable with the other employees, but the ownership of the company provides other monetary benefits. Note that he didn't sell the company to the employees and it's not a co-op....

        His salary is comparable with the other employees, but the ownership of the company provides other monetary benefits. Note that he didn't sell the company to the employees and it's not a co-op. While there aren't details regarding the specific ownership percentage he holds,(66%, according to this ) he and his brother founded the company and it's still privately held. Any profits left over are still going to push his total gains upwards because of his ownership of the company, even if his total compensation for his job is on parity with the other employees.

        EDIT: Interestingly, the announcement of the change to payment structure came just a few months before he was sued by his brother and co-founder Lucas Price over claims that Dan had been receiving excessive compensation. There are theories that his change was based not on new altruism, but on a desire to display a more defensible payment structure prior to the upcoming lawsuit.

        4 votes
        1. Loire
          Link Parent
          I would assume, five years later and continuing to make the minimum salary instead, that the lawsuit was not the cause. That sounds an awful lot like the sort of thing the right would dig up abd...

          I would assume, five years later and continuing to make the minimum salary instead, that the lawsuit was not the cause. That sounds an awful lot like the sort of thing the right would dig up abd push in order to discredit the guy for making a splash.

          3 votes
      3. [2]
        joplin
        Link Parent
        I don't get why he did that either. He could have so easily turned it into a narrative of "We don't need the state setting a minimum wage. Just look what this guy in Seattle did!" But then I guess...

        Everyone knew the likes of Rush Limbaugh claiming it wouldn't work were morons.

        I don't get why he did that either. He could have so easily turned it into a narrative of "We don't need the state setting a minimum wage. Just look what this guy in Seattle did!" But then I guess it sort of levels the playing field for poor people, and we can't have that! Anything to avoid making things more equal for the lessers!

        2 votes
        1. Loire
          Link Parent
          Because Rush is an authoritarian to the bone. His ideal world is neo-serfdom.

          Because Rush is an authoritarian to the bone. His ideal world is neo-serfdom.

          8 votes
      4. crdpa
        Link Parent
        In the article it says he was already making bank before this change. I think he has investments and other means of income along with this one.

        In the article it says he was already making bank before this change.

        I think he has investments and other means of income along with this one.

    3. [4]
      wundumguy
      Link Parent
      That's a good point. What's the latest with the Iran general? Are we still headed towards WWIII or are we taking a break because of coronavirus?

      That's a good point. What's the latest with the Iran general? Are we still headed towards WWIII or are we taking a break because of coronavirus?

      1 vote
      1. [3]
        Loire
        Link Parent
        That's been long over. Iran made a show of attacking American bases in the middle east to show they aren't weak, and everything blew over.

        That's been long over. Iran made a show of attacking American bases in the middle east to show they aren't weak, and everything blew over.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          Eric_the_Cerise
          Link Parent
          It's long over for us. 200 years from now, today's Iranian grandkids' grandkids will be chanting "death to America" because of—among many other things—some half-remembered military hero we nuked.

          It's long over for us. 200 years from now, today's Iranian grandkids' grandkids will be chanting "death to America" because of—among many other things—some half-remembered military hero we nuked.

          2 votes
          1. Loire
            Link Parent
            That's doubtful. Iran isn't Afghanistan and its people tend to be better educated/wordly than we give them credit for. If Republicans stop taking potshots at them and allow the country to rejoin...

            That's doubtful. Iran isn't Afghanistan and its people tend to be better educated/wordly than we give them credit for.

            If Republicans stop taking potshots at them and allow the country to rejoin the world stage the whole death to America thing may end in less than 50 years.

            4 votes
  2. [15]
    wundumguy
    Link
    This really puts things into perspective for me. I'm not wealthy but I make more than $70k and I feel like I'm not making "enough." Makes me wonder if there's something wrong with me or if I'm...

    This really puts things into perspective for me. I'm not wealthy but I make more than $70k and I feel like I'm not making "enough." Makes me wonder if there's something wrong with me or if I'm right in always trying to get a bigger slice of the pie

    1 vote
    1. NaraVara
      Link Parent
      The $70k number was based on some studies that determined more than that isn't associated with any meaningful increases in happiness. The study itself is a bit old, so the number is probably a bit...

      I'm not wealthy but I make more than $70k and I feel like I'm not making "enough."

      The $70k number was based on some studies that determined more than that isn't associated with any meaningful increases in happiness. The study itself is a bit old, so the number is probably a bit higher than that now, and it also varies based on cost of living where you are. It's ALSO a per person figure, and not a family of 3 or 4 figure, so if you have dependents it's likely not to be enough.

      In my area, a similar study was done and determined you needed about $120k per family of 4 just to be able to get by at a subsistence level. The "not any happier" level was close to $200k in household income (again, assuming family of 4).

      Another thing that is fairly unique to being American too is the general sense of precarity. Medical debt can fuck you over if you're anything less than a millionaire. There is literally nothing you can do about it if you have a serious health shock that insurance doesn't adequately cover. Sometimes it doesn't even need a health shock. My friend just had a baby and she has a $30k bill. She had no complications. Baby is perfectly healthy. Her husband works for the public defender's office and has insurance through the state government (good insurance). And yet still. . . thirty-thousand schmackos.

      11 votes
    2. [2]
      Contentus
      Link Parent
      I think wanting to make more than 70k is always good. Spending more as income increases, generally not good. Save for a rainy day, retirement, philanthropy, etc.

      I think wanting to make more than 70k is always good. Spending more as income increases, generally not good.

      Save for a rainy day, retirement, philanthropy, etc.

      4 votes
      1. joplin
        Link Parent
        Agreed. There are a number of studies and popular books on the subject that say that saving 10% of your income starting when you start working will likely leave you set for a decent retirement...

        Agreed. There are a number of studies and popular books on the subject that say that saving 10% of your income starting when you start working will likely leave you set for a decent retirement regardless of income due to the effects of compound interest. Saving 15% will leave you wealthy. (See, for example, The Millionaire Next Door.)

        In this case "saving" means investing in something like an index-based no load mutual fund that will grow as the stock market grows, doing it regularly, and holding your position for years without selling, even when the market drops.

        But I totally get the feeling of "I'm not making enough!" There are a number of reasons for this. Some of it is comparison. If you see neighbors and friends buying expensive cars and houses and other things, it's easy to assume they're all making more than you, and that you're missing out. My spouse and I once purchased an expensive condo and were struggling a bit to make the payments. (Nothing serious, but it was tighter than it needed to be.) Other people in the building seemed so successful. The lady next door had her own event planning business. The guy above us ran a lighting store. We kept thinking, "How are these people able to make their payments so easily? It doesn't seem likely they're making that much more than us." Well, it turns out that the lady next door only owned half the condo. Her rich dad had paid for the other half. The guy above us also had some arrangement where his condo was owned by a family trust. (Above him was a doctor with enough family money that she only worked like 3 days a week.) They mostly also bought years earlier when things were cheaper and wanted to sell and move out, but couldn't afford to because they'd lose too much money from the price they bought at. So sometimes things aren't what they seem!

        Something I do when I feel that way is make a list of things that I think I need more money for. Is it things like groceries and medical bills? Then, yeah, you probably need more money. Is it things like a bigger TV or bigger house? Then it's probably not really necessary but just something you want. (And it's fine to want material things. They can bring joy or even be useful. Just know why you're wanting them.) That can help me understand my feelings about wanting to make more money, at the least.

        5 votes
    3. [8]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      This may or may not reflect your experience. This is how I saw my family spend. When both of my parents were working, they made somewhere between 50k₽ and 70k₽. I don't have the precise numbers...

      This may or may not reflect your experience. This is how I saw my family spend.

      When both of my parents were working, they made somewhere between 50k₽ and 70k₽. I don't have the precise numbers because they never thought it a good idea to make me privy to the finances of the family. I can estimate their previous incomes based on the general level of pay in their fields and positions.

      Here deep in Siberia, this is very good money. Enough to support a family of three and have a good chunk left. The minimum wage in Russia was around 8k₽ back then.

      Most of the money went into luxuries that no one ever needed. Some of it was expensive purchases for me (I had one of the early PDAs back when PDAs were only starting to become a thing here). Some of it was new clothes, shoes, and jewelry when there was already little space for more. Some was home electronics – not too expensive a piece, but together they stacked.

      The family needed none of it – we already had the basics well covered, and most things above that saw little use – but there was a notion that one must have a certain level of luxury about them (in a tacky, almost kitsch sort of a way – the way people who are still poor in their minds think of wealth) to count for something. This naturally led to a lot of wasted money, most of it here and there rather than in singular expensive purchases (which were frowned upon in the family).

      Perhaps that's something that's happening with your expenses? A little here and there so the spending is not that easy to track or pin down.

      3 votes
      1. [7]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        That's a common story, but I don't think this feeling necessarily goes away for people who are more sensible about what they spend. Even if you're not spending it all and a good chunk of your...

        That's a common story, but I don't think this feeling necessarily goes away for people who are more sensible about what they spend. Even if you're not spending it all and a good chunk of your income is going into savings, there is always the question of whether you are saving enough for retirement or any unexpected future expenses. This "enough" question isn't something many people are emotionally prepared to answer yes to, since they have no experience with it.

        4 votes
        1. [2]
          ThatFanficGuy
          Link Parent
          Fair enough. How does one answer that positively?

          Fair enough. How does one answer that positively?

          1 vote
          1. skybrian
            Link Parent
            I'm not sure yet. You can try doing calculations, but if you're thinking about expenses for your entire future there are many unknowns. I think one thing to remember is that spending is about...

            I'm not sure yet. You can try doing calculations, but if you're thinking about expenses for your entire future there are many unknowns.

            I think one thing to remember is that spending is about making choices and you're usually in charge of what you spend, meaning that you can choose to spend more or less. And this is something people actually do based on their incomes.

            If you think you need a minimum of $X to be comfortable, what do you say about all the people making less than X? What are they doing? Why can't you do it too?

            This doesn't hold for all X but there is a level at which you have lots of examples of people doing fine with less.

            1 vote
        2. [4]
          Omnicrola
          Link Parent
          Is it that you arent making "enough" in terms of youre comparing yourself to others, or "enough" in terms of you get to the end of the month and wonder where all the money went even though all...

          Is it that you arent making "enough" in terms of youre comparing yourself to others, or "enough" in terms of you get to the end of the month and wonder where all the money went even though all your bills are paid?

          1. skybrian
            Link Parent
            Well, personally, I am happily retired and I do think I have "enough" but do know others who are less sure about that. There are online calculators to help you figure out whether you have enough...

            Well, personally, I am happily retired and I do think I have "enough" but do know others who are less sure about that.

            There are online calculators to help you figure out whether you have enough for retirement but I am not sure they do anything other than help investment firms sell their retirement products. Security is a feeling, not a number.

            In the U.S. in particular you can nearly always worry at least a bit about unknown future health care costs.

            5 votes
          2. ThatFanficGuy
            Link Parent
            I think it's "enough" as in "how much do I need to be making in order to be able to afford pleasant conditions of living while maintaining a secure, reliable future fund".

            I think it's "enough" as in "how much do I need to be making in order to be able to afford pleasant conditions of living while maintaining a secure, reliable future fund".

            1 vote
          3. wundumguy
            Link Parent
            I mean, I'm in a very fortunate position where we're saving up for early retirement (think 50 years old). I'm just so ready to not work again though...

            I mean, I'm in a very fortunate position where we're saving up for early retirement (think 50 years old). I'm just so ready to not work again though...

    4. mrbig
      Link Parent
      I don't think everyone makes 70k, 70k is just their internal minimum wage.

      I don't think everyone makes 70k, 70k is just their internal minimum wage.

      "Before the $70,000 minimum wage, we were having between zero and two babies born per year amongst the team," he says.

      2 votes
    5. [2]
      AugustusFerdinand
      Link Parent
      Review your spending. It's incredibly common for you to experience lifestyle inflation as you increase the amount of money you make. Do a review of what you had and were paying for when you were...

      This really puts things into perspective for me. I'm not wealthy but I make more than $70k and I feel like I'm not making "enough."

      Review your spending. It's incredibly common for you to experience lifestyle inflation as you increase the amount of money you make. Do a review of what you had and were paying for when you were at $20k less than you are now. What are your expenses now that weren't expenses then? Do you really need that stuff? Is it worth what you're paying for it?

      2 votes
      1. wundumguy
        Link Parent
        No worries there, our spending is admirably low. I just don't want to work until I'm 65, and ideally I'd be retired by 40 lol

        No worries there, our spending is admirably low. I just don't want to work until I'm 65, and ideally I'd be retired by 40 lol

        2 votes
  3. [3]
    mrbig
    Link
    I think the title is misleading and should be edited since 70k is just their internal minimum wage. @Algernon_Asimov, @cfabbro?

    I think the title is misleading and should be edited since 70k is just their internal minimum wage. @Algernon_Asimov, @cfabbro?

    4 votes
  4. [2]
    mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    It's interesting how the coordinating conjunction but was used here since the latter can be easily interpreted as a consequence of the former, rather than presenting a contrast or exception.

    Raised in deeply Christian, rural Idaho, Dan Price is upbeat and positive, generous in his praise of others and impeccably polite, but he has become a crusader against inequality in the US.

    It's interesting how the coordinating conjunction but was used here since the latter can be easily interpreted as a consequence of the former, rather than presenting a contrast or exception.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. mrbig
        Link Parent
        I believe but was used to oppose "upbeat and positive, generous in his praise of others and impeccably polite", not his Christian background.

        I believe but was used to oppose "upbeat and positive, generous in his praise of others and impeccably polite", not his Christian background.

        2 votes