Goodbye Alex

Alex King recently passed away after a two year battle with cancer.

Alex was not one of my closest friends, but his passing hit me very hard. I was riding in a car from the airport yesterday when I got the news from his wife, and I just started crying.

I got to know Alex because he was a mentor in Boulder in the early years of Techstars. He totally leaned into mentoring startups and never for a moment asked what was in it for him. He was one of the few early technical mentors and he was in high demand. He loved his role as teacher. He was very, very good at it.

Alex changed the world in so many ways. He created the share icon that you see on most web sites today. He helped create WordPress very early on through his many open source contributions and today this software powers the internet. In fact it is the tool I am using to write this post today. You’re experiencing his work right now by reading this post.

Alex quite literally impacted millions of people with his work.

Work is important, of course. But when I started reading the outpouring of love from his friends and family over the last few years, I knew Alex had been truly successful in all phases of life.

In August of this year, I sent this note to wife Heather and I am happy that Alex probably had the chance to read it.

Hi Heather. I first met Alex around the time I started Techstars, in 2007. At that time, he had an amazing reputation as a software developer and I wanted to make sure we had strong mentors at Techstars who knew both business and tech. Alex jumped in with both feet without once asking what was in it for him. He was excited about the idea of helping startups succeed. The first time I met him I remember thinking “wow, this guy was a major part of creating wordpress, which powers an incredible percentage of the web sites that exist today. what a feeling it must be to have been involved in something like that so deeply, which had so much impact on so many people and companies. His work has literally touched billions.” As someone with an engineering background, I know that the true joy in our work is that others use the art (software) that we create. Today, Techstars uses WordPress to host our own site. Early on, I remember watching Alex present at local tech meetups and I had the impression that he didn’t think he was very good at it. But he was great. He held a rooms attention and came off as an authority without being at all arrogant. He is a great teacher. We then worked together on a few projects during the Crowd Favorite years and the work was always impeccable. Sadly, after a few years I had fewer occasions to work directly with Alex or to run into him. Denver is far from Boulder in so many ways. I do not know Alex super well. We are not best friends, more like business acquaintances. But when I think of Alex, I think of a family man who puts others first, is very giving, very respected,  and someone who has excelled at everything he has done in life. He has always been a person that I wholeheartedly recommend to others in any context. And he is someone I am glad I have had the opportunity to know, even if only at a high level.

Alex changed the world. He left his mark. He was humble, but he was noticed.

Thank you Alex. From all of us. Thank you.

file under: Startups