Meet the man who traded to Microsoft in exchange for

5 with Bob Kerstein, the man who traded to Microsoft in exchange for

Bob Kerstein
Bob Kerstein, founder of

Bob Kerstein is a certified public accountant who has held numerous senior accounting & finance roles, including several CFO positions at publicly held companies. In a roundabout way, his finance background is what got him involved in the early days of the internet.

Kerstein’s finance background helped pique his interest in scripophily, the study and collection of stock and bond certificates. Shortly after he began getting involved in the certificate industry, domain names were newly available for the public to register. Without knowing much about the internet, Kerstein registered

Here’s 5 with Kerstein:

How did you first get involved with the internet and domain names?

I bought in 1996 because my hobby had started turning into a business. I owned an antique store and about 5% of our sales came from stock and bond certificates. It made sense for me to try to sell my certificates online – and it worked. I passed by everyone else. Shortly after I began selling online, my sales reversed. Now, 95% of my sales were certificates from my website. Others in the industry weren’t happy. I attended a conference and was told that I needed to ‘pay my dues’ and work my way to the top like everyone else. But I got a lot of press when I launched the website and I haven’t looked back.

What are some of the other domain names that you owned early on?

I’ve owned and sold domains like:

Back then, no one was sure what would come of the internet. I believed in it, but it was expensive to keep domain names for a long period of time if they weren’t selling. I dropped several great domain names, including

Tell us the story of

I registered the domain in 1996 and built a site with links to live cameras from around the world. The site was ‘your window to the world’. Well in 1998, Microsoft decided to call their new product Windows 2000. All of my friends told me I should sue them. In fact, I had several lawyers contact me to ask if they could represent me. I turned them all down, though. I’m not a litigious person and I wasn’t interested in the uphill battle that would be suing Microsoft. I was able to get in touch with someone at Microsoft and we basically agreed to not sue each other.

At the time, I formed an agreement with Microsoft. They used some of my content on their sites to help build their content brand. In exchange, they put a link back to my site that said “Windows 2000™”– my trademark.

I quickly realized that had a limited shelf life. After the year 2000, it would be next to worthless. I decided to put my website up for auction. However, when I let my Microsoft contact know, he was less than thrilled. A short time later, I got a nasty letter from an attorney at Microsoft telling me that I couldn’t auction the site because I was using their trademark. I called the attorney and asked him to visit Microsoft’s website. When he saw the “TM” for my brand, he understood that I was well within my rights to sell the site.

Microsoft then made me an offer. I can’t discuss the financial details of the offer, but I can say this: It was good, but not life changing. However, I saw an opportunity. Microsoft owned – my first name. I told the attorney that I would happily give them if they would add to my offer. They accepted, and the rest is history.

What do you think about the future of domain names?

I think that .com and brandable domain names will always be good – the shorter the better. You want to own a domain name that you can build a franchise or business around.

Early on, domain names were king. Now, Google has come along and has really diluted domains. Users used to find websites with direct navigation – now they rely on search. It hasn’t hurt the “brand value” in domain names, but it has hurt the direct navigation value.

What are your thoughts on the new gTLDs?

I think they are cool and there are some great names to be picked up, but I don’t see them showing up in search engines – that’s the problem. It’s like I mentioned before – there’s value in the brand, but I don’t see the direct navigation value there.

A big thanks to Bob for sharing his story. If you have questions for him, please leave them in the comments.

MAJOR WordPress attack going on NOW

If you own a WordPress blog, make sure it’s secure. According to’s blog, there is a significant WordPress attack taking place across a number of web hosts.

As I type these words, there is an on-going and highly-distributed, global attack on WordPress installations across virtually every web host in existence.  This attack is well organized and again very, very distributed; we have seen over 90,000 IP addresses involved in this attack.

At this moment, we highly recommend you log into any WordPress installation you have and change the password to something that meets the security requirements specified on the WordPress website.  These requirements are fairly typical of a secure password: upper and lowercase letters, at least eight characters long, and including “special” characters (^%$#&@*).

HostGator goes on to mention how to password protect your wp-login.php scripts. Please see this tutorial. Although it’s written for users on HostGator servers, the steps should work across nearly all cPanel web hosts.

Stay safe out there!

WARNING: Stolen’s for sale on forums

This information has been reported by DomainGang previously, but I wanted to re-share this since I nearly purchased the stolen domains.

The following domain names were reportedly stolen from their rightful owner:

The email address “” is associated with the theft.

As said above, this information has been circulated around blogs and forums – but I hadn’t seen it. I nearly purchased several of these domain names because of a PM I received at NamePros. The price was right, but the forum account had no feedback. After a quick Google search, I discovered these domain names were stolen.

The thief is trying to get rid of these domains at very low prices, so I ask that you share the news of this theft with your domainer friends.

Shout out to DomainGang for bringing this to my attention before I sent the money.