The early period after a technological discontinuity allows an innovative startup to exploit a phase of foment and great uncertainty. Entrepreneurial efforts of new firms compete against the intrapreneurial initiatives (if any) of incumbents to identify those technological and business resources that will be valuable under the new regime.

The concept of intrapraneurship has centered on adapting ideas and practices from entrepreneurial startups for use by more established firms. At the same time, the explosion of entrepreneurial startups in Silicon Valley since the 1960s has been defined by groups of entrepreneurs taking what they have learned at one company to start an unsanctioned spin-off, as typified by the defection of the “Traitorous Eight” from Shockley Labs to form Fairchild Semiconductor. This suggests that intrapreneurial development must attract capable employees and encourage their entrepreneurial instincts, while at the same time harnessing those skills for the benefit of the firm; if not, the nascent entrepreneurs will create a new (possibly competing) startup.