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.

Appearances

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.

13 Comments


  1. I pray God grant his family the fortitude to bear the loss.

    So sad to see him go. He indeed was one of WordPress pillars.

    May his soul rest in peace. *sad*

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  2. So sad to read this news. I remember his Popularity plugin, which was used in all my sites. His WordPress framework is also very inspiring for all WordPress developers like me.

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  3. Code he wrote, blogposts he authored and mockups that he designed genuinely inspired me. I never met him, but I’ve long known Alex King as someone who had mastered his craft and eagerly passed on his knowledge to whoever was willing to learn.

    I’m a complete stranger to Alex King, yet I feel genuine sadness today, because his immense efforts as an open source contributor reached so far and wide that it permanently impacted me, *some guy* half-way across the world. Thanks Alex.

    He left the world better than he found it.

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    1. That’s beautiful, Erlend. No truer words could be written about Alex King as far as i’m concerned.

      …Someone who had mastered his craft and eagerly passed on his knowledge to whoever was willing to learn.

      He left the world better than he found it.

      May we all strive for the same in our own lives. RIP, Alex.

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    2. Alex King was a brilliant coder and a generous spirit. Back in December 2006, he helped Foliovision get started with good Typepad to WordPress conversions, including tips on SEO. This was our first foray into public services and pure web development.

      Over the years Alex has helped dozens of other studios start. A model open source citizen, giving a huge amount of code back to the world. Would that we who are left could match the generous spirits of early WordPress.

      Thank you Alex for making a better world. Journey in peace.

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  4. This is a sad, sad news :-(
    I never met him, but since WordPress 1.5 (when I started using WP professionally) I always found Alex’s ideas, code, knowledge immensely useful and offered in a very friendly way.

    I’m not good at all with my English, but I want to let know to his wife, his daughter and all this family that Alex contributed to mak e this world a better world.

    I’ll pray for him and all of his family :-(

    Stefano

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  5. Very sad about this news.

    Early on and before it had broad use, we needed support with what is a WP multi- user installation. It wasn’t easy to find folks who had the knowledge & ability back then.

    Alex did, he helped us solve a difficult problem and we’ve followed him ever since.

    May he Rest In Peace.

    Chris

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  6. Even though I knew this was coming for a very long time, and even though I didn’t know him personally, this is still very sad. Every few weeks I stumble across something which has his name on it, which will be a reminder of a man who had a deep and long lasting impact on the world around him. As Erlend said above, the world is a better place due to his brief time on it, and I think that is a wonderful legacy to leave.

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  7. Never had the pleasure of meeting Alex in person, but his writing was a fundamental part of how I learned to build themes for WordPress. And if it wasn’t for his helpful work as a starting point, I wouldn’t have learned more about web development later on.

    We lost a pillar of the community this week. RIP Alex. Thank you for everything.

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  8. Man, this is sad news. I think Crowd Favourite’s Carrington was one of the very first designs I used on my blog back in the day, and any time I think of what WordPress has done for me, Alex is one of the names that pop up.

    He left one heck of a legacy. Warmest thoughts and sincerest condolences to his family.

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  9. RIP Alex, you certainly touched many lives for the better.

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