The difference with this is that you can attract better employees. Better employees create better business. Better business means more money for everyone involved. You also avoid the headaches of things like turnover rate and motivation with this model as well.
As for your other example, I would 100% do that. Elevate those around you and they can do the same to you. Grades don't mean much of anything in "the real world." Hell, they barely mean much in school as the guy that might not be great with testing might be your best salesman. When you help each other and create an environment where everyone has the same goal is when you can see great gains.
I do see your point about the financial risk being the reason why things are set up this way where the guy at the top makes all of the cash, and that is very hard to get around. This system puts risk on top of risk for the kingpin, but can also be a boon. As this thread points out, people are willing to do business with places that treat employees well.