I just quit my job at a prestigious research institute because I could not take the hierarchical atmosphere, which to me was antithetical to doing any kind of real creative work.
So, here's a god-damned game company showing a better way. Which prompts the thought, why can't we have a place like this for doing important work, such as scientific software and building the networked collaboration tools that the world needs to fix its big problems?
(Well, I sort of know the answer, which is that Valve has a nice fat revenue stream which gives them some room for organizational freedom. )
(And I should note that I have been in environments that were something like this in the past, such as the MIT Media Lab -- but Valve actually seems more radically non-hierarchical)