Why hierarchy interferes with growth with Talal Shamoon, CEO of Intertrust

Does a business perform better without a strict hierarchy?

This has been one of the key discussions I had with Talal Shamoon, CEO of Intertrust in California. Talal became Intertrust’s CEO in 2003 and under his leadership, the company has grown from a small R&D and licensing company to a global leader in trusted computing products and services, licensing, and standardization.

With Talal, we also discussed adaptability in business, why your team and the tools you give them are one of the greatest assets for any CEO. Talal is an entrepreneur by nature and talks about how this has aided his success and gives his thoughts on different CEO archetypes including detailed feedback on Elon Musk’s leadership style.


  • Silicon Valley is not so much about the company or the idea. It’s about cooperation between companies
  • Intertrust has remained a very agile company despite its size and age and Talal has set up the company structure to have less hierarchy and not get too big. He believes that once you get past the 150-employee mark, businesses and companies change
  • Elon Musk is often criticized, but he leads from the front and has the ability to help anyone get their job done
  • Talal never makes decisions by himself, he has a group of people that he trusts to help him work through them.


“There’s no real hierarchy here, we organize around problems that need to be solved”

“To create shareholder value I have to ensure the team remains the best team in the world”

“Companies like Motorola and Nokia had to die for companies like Apple and Samsung to be born”

“I never make decisions by myself… I don’t hold the truth, I don’t own the truth, no one owns the truth”

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