Happy birthday, Wincustomize (hey, look at my UserID number!)!
Just to share a bit more of history:
Back in 1998/1999, bandwidth was really, really, expensive (as in a relatively popular site would consume *thousands* of dollars in bandwidth *per month*). Many skinning sites of the time, founded mostly by enthusiasts, eventually fell victim to their own popularity, since they hosted free content and had no form of revenue to pay for the ever increasing bandwidth usage costs brought along by their own increasing popularity.
This is where eFront, an advertising company led by the infamous Sam Jain, stepped in: they would offer to pay for the bandwidth - and even a salary to the site's owners - in exchange for owning the site (which they would then use to place ads and in this way generate advertising revenue).
Then the dot com bubble burst and advertising revenue fell through the roof: eFront was no longer able to support the sites it owned, people weren't getting paid, and Sam Jain's ICQ logs and dubious business dealings were leaked to the general public, causing a huge scandal in the skinning community.
This in turn led directly to the downfall of Skinz.org, at the time the most popular skins site on the net, because it was owned by eFront: skinners en masse removed their content from it as a form of protest. The demise of Skinz.org left a huge vacuum on the skinning community, and many great themes and skins were lost forever that day.
This is where Brad Wardell and Stardock stepped in to create Wincustomize. Stardock needed a reliable site to host WindowBlinds skins, and Brad gambled on the idea that filling the vacuum left by Skinz.org would bring in more people from outside, which in turn would become paying customers for Stardock applications. For this to happen, Wincustomize had to host not only skins for Stardock applications, but for 3rd party applications as well. It was a big risk Brad took at the time, as Stardock was relatively small back then (at least in comparison to what it is today) and the expenses were huge - but it totally paid off.
Soon after there were only two big skinning sites left on the net: Wincustomize and DeviantArt. DeviantArt decided to go on another direction (selling and focusing on art) which left Wincustomize as the undisputed king of Windows customization.
To this day, it is still the main repository of Winstep skins too (hey, I had to find a way to pull my own sardine closer to the fire ).