Alex King, Founder of Crowd Favorite Passes Away

Alex King with his daughter Heather
Alex King with his daughter Caitlin

Alex King, who founded web development agency Crowd Favorite, and author of several WordPress themes and plugins passed away last night at his home. In January 2013, King was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. He used his blog to tell the story of his fight to stay alive.

On August 24th, King finished the first cycle of a new clinical trial that he says went well.

I’m nearly through my first cycle of the new clinical trial and overall I think it’s gone pretty well. I was able to get the 6 pills/day (3 in the morning, 3 in the evening) without too much concern. That said, by the end of the 5 days taking the pills I would basically sleep for the day.

On the same day, he published what would be his final request to the WordPress community. King requested that anyone with memories of him and his career to submit them to his wife.

One of the things my wife and I are trying to do is put together some information about my career that will hopefully give my 6 year-old daughter a better sense of who I was as an adult. She knows me as “dad”, but when she gets older she’ll be curious about who I was to my peers and colleagues.

If you have any memories of King, please honor his request and submit them to his wife.

Outpouring of Support

As the news of King’s death spread throughout the community, many shared grief on Twitter while others reflected on his accomplishments in WordPress.

In addition to Twitter, many published their thoughts and memories of King on their site.

King’s Impact on WordPress Early On

King is one of a handful of people who witnessed the transition from b2 to WordPress. He’s one of the earliest WordPress developers and is largely credited with motivating developers to build themes using the template engine in WordPress 1.5.

Alex King wrote a CSS Style Switcher hack, which came with three CSS stylesheets. Not everyone who had a WordPress blog wanted to create their own stylesheet, and many didn’t know how. Users needed a pool of stylesheets to choose from. To grow the number of stylesheets available, Alex ran a WordPress CSS Style competition. Prizes, donated by members of the community, were offered for the top three stylesheets; $70, $35, and $10 respectively. – WordPress History Book

In the first contest, King received 38 submissions with Pink Lillies by Naoko Takano winning first place.

Pink Lillies Wins First Design Contest
Pink Lillies Wins First Design Contest

Each sylesheet submitted to the contest was available to the public. In essence, King’s website was an early version of the WordPress theme directory. In the second contest, he received over 100 submissions. In total, King hosted 138 themes on his site. He decided not to host the competition again in 2006 due to the sheer amount of work required.


King appeared on several different WordPress podcasts and spoke at a number of WordCamps. Here are links to a few of them.

My Memorable Experience With Alex King

The last time I spoke to King in person was at WordCamp San Francisco 2013. A group of us rode together in a party limo complete with blinking lights inside. I sat across from him and asked a few questions related to his health. I also asked him about the early days of WordPress. King was a soft-spoken man who at times is hard to hear but it turned out to be a great and memorable conversation.

The WordPress community has lost an inspirational person and a pillar of the WordPress project. My deepest condolences go out to his friends and family. King is survived by his wife Heather and his daughter Caitlin.

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