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Red Hat's billion-dollar year

The software developer becomes the first open-source company to generate $1bn in annual revenue.

Two years after Red Hat held its initial public offering in 1999, Bill Gates dismissed Linux, the free operating system, as a mere “competitor in the student and hobbyist market”: “I really don't think in the commercial market we'll see it in any significant way,” he said. 

At the time, it was unclear how money could be made from open-source software. Though it was used by tech-savvy computing enthusiasts and academics, it was viewed with some scepticism by the mainstream; potential investors, meanwhile, were puzzled by the idea of giving away the source code of programmes for nothing.

But now, a decade on, the US software company Red Hat has become the latest member of the billion-dollars-a-year club, reporting total revenue for the fiscal year 2012 of $1.13bn – an increase of 25 per cent over the year. This is a first for the open-source sector.

Red Hat reported net income of $36m for the fiscal fourth quarter ended 29 February 2012 (an increase from $33.5m for the same period last year) and total revenue of $297m. For the full year, net income was $146.6m (2011: $107.3m). As of 29 February 2012, cash and investments were $1.3bn.

Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO of Red Hat, attributed the strong results to the company's “investments to expand [its] geographic sales footprint and add sales people with targeted industry and product knowledge”. 

Charlie Peters, executive vice-president and CFO of Red Hat, said: “Our strategy for growth, coupled with relentless day-to-day execution of the business, has been successful. We experienced a significant increase in large deals, both in Q4 and for the full year which contributed to annual organic growth of 25 per cent in revenue, 33 per cent in non-GAAP operating income and 35 per cent growth in operating cash flow.”

Operating income for the fourth quarter was $48.5m and $199.9m for the full fiscal year. Operating margin was 16.3 per cent in the fourth quarter and 17.6 per cent for the full year.

Operating cash flow was $128m and $391.9m for the fourth quarter and full year, respectively. At the end of the fiscal year, the company’s total deferred revenue balance was $946.7m, an increase of 23 per cent on a year-on-year basis and 16 per cent sequentially.

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Personal experiences – not just biology – shape who you find attractive

Researchers find past experiences play a role in identifying why people are attracted to certain individuals.

A new study suggests personal experiences influence our attraction to our preferred partners. It was previously thought genes played a bigger role, as they do in forming other examples of behaviour and character traits. Just reflect on the number of times you've been singled out by a family member for acting like one of your parents, either offensively or in a praiseworthy way.

There are certain characteristics that lead people to judge particular faces as more attractive than others, such as the level of symmetry. However, people still dispute others' opinions when judging facial attractiveness – it's subjective. After all, what else is the purpose of the romantic lead's sassy best friend in any rom-com or book? Or just think how boring conversations with your friends would be without such intense and passionate disagreements.

The researchers used twins as participants in the study in order to monitor these differences and disagreements in opinion. This was necessary because twins are, by definition, genetically identical, allowing the scientists to rule out genetic differences as a reason in explaining their findings.

A total of 547 sets of identical twins and 214 sets of fraternal twins (siblings sharing half of their DNA) were asked to judge the facial attractiveness of 102 female faces and 98 male faces, and give each face a rating based on preference. The results showed, on average, the twins agreed with each other 48 per cent of the time, and disagreed on facial attractiveness 52 per cent. Had the numbers been closer for both the identical and fraternal groups, this would have shown genes were more influential in determining our levels of attraction to others.

The study concluded the reason behind this difference was primarily based on an individual's unique environmental factors (the scientific phrase for "past experiences"), at 78 per cent.

Previous studies have shown aesthetic preferences are based on a range of other factors too, including socioeconomic and cultural features, the rater's own facial features and also personality. (See, it's not always about looks.) The authors were also able to determine how our genes influence facial recognition during this same experiment, if not our preferences.

Discovering that a personality characteristic is influenced by our environment is another highlight in the field of behavioural genetics, as it was previously thought "nature beats nurture" in many aspects of an individual's behaviour. However, this study shows that a person's experiences are unique even between family members.