What a year it has been for Dan Price.
The co-founder and chief executive of Gravity Payments made a name for himself and propelled his little-known Seattle-based business into the national conversation this past spring by raising the minimum annual salary for his employees to $70,000. Since then, he's smiled from the cover of multiple magazines (including this one). He's been pitched by Mark Burnett on doing a reality show.
Now, Inc. has learned, he's writing the book to tell his story, and expound upon his progressive business strategies.
His book, tentatively titled The Force of Gravity, will be published by the Penguin Random House imprint Viking. Price's advance, he says, is more than $500,000. No publication date has been set yet.
Price tells Inc. exclusively that it's going to be a "completely honest and completely unfiltered" first-person telling of his side of what's gone on in his company, and in his life, over the past few years. It will also present new strategies for doing business in a socially conscious manner.
"He's basically thrown down the gauntlet for a progressive way of looking at business," said Rick Kot, the executive editor at Viking who acquired rights to the book. "He's a visionary entrepreneur, and those don't come along very often." (Viking would not confirm the size of Price's advance.)
Price says he turned down multiple offers from agents and publishers to work with a ghostwriter. Instead, he went a traditional publishing route, and worked up a book proposal on his own.
Now 31, Price says he couldn't shake off the feeling that his longstanding desire to write a book--he'd had the itch since his early 20s--was just some "narcissistic Generation-Y thing." "Everyone thinks their life should be a movie or a book," he says. "I always figured I'd spend a little more time learning and growing, and write one when I was 60, or 50 at the earliest." But after a trip to the Aspen Ideas festival in Aspen, Colorado, and some coaxing from mentors (the publicity-ready likes of whom include Sheryl Sandberg and Tyra Banks), he felt more self-assured.
He's hard at work on the book already, having penned some 40,000 words. (Roughly speaking, 100,000 words net out to around 300 pages in a book.)
Price started Gravity Payments at age 19, along with his brother. They worked out of a Seattle Pacific University dorm room, helping small businesses navigate credit-card payment systems. Soon, Gravity launched its own payment platform. It now employs 135 people.
But the little company with a humble aim now has exposure that reaches far and wide, after Price famously announced in April--with reporters from NBC and The New York Times on hand--that he would raise the baseline salary for employees at Gravity to $70,000, and cut his own salary of $1.1 million down to that same $70,000. Inc.'s November cover story on Price explained what happened next:
The reaction was tsunamic, with 500 million interactions on social media and NBC's video becoming the most shared in network history. Gravity was flooded with stories from ecstatic workers elsewhere who suddenly got raises from converted bosses who tossed them out like Scrooge after his epiphany -- even, in one case, at an apparel factory in Vietnam. Price was cheered at the Aspen Ideas Festival and got an offer from The Apprentice reality-show impresario Mark Burnett to be the new Donald Trump on a show called Billion Dollar Startup. Gravity was inundated with résumés--4,500 in the first week alone--including one from a high-powered 52-year-old Yahoo executive named Tammi Kroll, who was so inspired by Price that she quit her job and in September went to work for Gravity at what she insisted would be an 80-85 percent pay cut. "I spent many years chasing the money," she says. "Now I'm looking for something fun and meaningful."
Since becoming the modern Robin Hood at the center of America's living wage debate, Price says he's learned to carve out time for speaking engagements and media appearances, but still spends every Monday in the office with his company. That day starts with an 8 a.m. "top priorities" meeting, and ends with four hours of "open office" hours, during which up to 40 employees pop in for individual conversations.
"Until the President of the United States calls me, I'll be in the offices Mondays," Price says, calling them "my favorite days."