I think we agree that "scaling" small (sub-RAM-size) amounts of data to a largely logged-out and cached audience is easy, but I think you think of WordPress.com as much smaller and more static than it actually is. My apologies if I'm misunderstanding your point of view.
If you want to see standalone sites in the top 100 running WP besides wordpress.com, check out time.com, umbrellanews.com, celebuzz.com, and large sections of nytimes.com, cnn.com, and people.com. If you were to spider the top million Alexa domains, you'd find about 17% of them on WP:
I realize lots of people run wordpress. That doesn't support the claim that it easily scales to the traffic demands of a top 10 site.