Readers of The New York Times appear to have given up on Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price's idea of setting his company's minimum salary at $70,000.
The newspaper on Monday published a five-paragraph call-out to readers, asking them to weigh in on whether they would follow the lead of the now financially troubled entrepreneur, who in April slashed his own $1 million salary down to $70,000 and gave most of his lowest-paid workers raises.
The responses, overall, were cynical.
Price is in dire straits. Following the initial celebrity he enjoyed for his virally praised decision, things went awry.
Some clients abandoned his payment-processing service, fearing -- despite reassurances -- a price hike to offset the cost of the salary bump, according to a feature published last week by the Times. Other clients left in opposition to a principle they saw as naive at best, and mildly socialist at worst. A few of the company's seasoned employees, angry that newcomers were making so much, quit. Though Price received love letters and marriage proposals after his big announcement, he also got condescending hate-mail. His own brother sued him.
"We aren't out to avoid challenges or hard times, we are out to stick up for the little gal or guy who is fighting for the American Dream. Being willing to sacrifice comes with the territory and it is a privilege to do so in service to our clients," Price told The Huffington Post on Tuesday morning. "There are lots of things I could have done better, and I don't have all of the answers, but I will always put our mission above maximizing short-term profit."
His recent misfortune seems to have left Times readers feeling rather hopeless about the $70,000 salary idea and how it was executed.
If not outright dismissive of the plan in the first place, many seemed to feel Price was naive, if well-intentioned:
"While I believe what Mr. Price did is admirable, I think he would have benefitted from reading 'wealth of nations,' wrote one commenter, who went by Anthony. "I'm not knocking this gentleman, he seems like a very stand up guy, and I'd love to see this work. However, it won't, and it will hurt his company on a few levels [all sic]."
Others compared it to the bankrupt fictional firm from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged:
"Gravity Payments is the 2015 version of the 20th Century Motor Company in Atlas Shrugged. With the same results," wrote one commenter under the screen-name slothb77.
Some critiqued Gravity's move for eliminating an incentive to work harder:
"There has to be performance and results tied to it otherwise the company will falter in the long term," wrote a commenter who went by Ryan. "There will be a brain drain on the higher end of the spectrum while the lower end of the employee spectrum will have a higher tendency to slack off."
Others wrote off the decision to set the $70,000 baseline as a clever PR move:
"If a company is vastly overpaying its janitors, and it has only one janitor, nothing is going to be happen [sic]," wrote commenter K.H. "And the company earns plenty of positive publicity from a bunch of souls that are naive enough to believe in this publicity stunt."
Still, a handful held out hope:
"This move will clear out the deadwood [sic], make room for new enthusiasm and despite some hiccups I believe his business will thrive," wrote commenter Donna Chasteau. "More importantly he [Price] will thrive, knowing he has done the right thing."
"If I was the company CEO and I felt the profit margins would allow for a salary increase without causing shortages of materials, work space, or safety in the work place......... Absolutely I would," wrote Gee Willers. "And I applaud Dan Price for being a boss who has spent more than 5 minutes of his own personal time thinking about how he can improve his employees quality of life [all sic]."