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Starbucks is a giant multinational chain of gourmet coffee shops, often serving desserts and serving as a center for socializing and intellectual discussion, particularly among students and young urban professionals. Corporate headquarters are in Seattle, Washington. The company was named after Starbuck, a character in Moby Dick.

The first Starbucks opened in Seattle in 1971. By the time of its initial public offering on the stock market in 1992, it had grown to 165 outlets. In April 2003 Starbucks added 150 new outlets in one day, by completing the purchase of Seattle's Best Coffee and Torrefazione Italia from AFC Enterprises. As of May 2003, Starbucks operated more than 6,400 locations worldwide. Stung by criticism of the conditions in which its coffee was grown, the company introduced a line of fair trade products, although the majority of its sales are not fair trade. Starbucks is also known for providing even part-time employees with healthcare benefits and stock options.

Starbucks' success in the US market has not always been replicated around the world, as it has faced stiff competition in locations where existing coffee shops and restaurants already serve a variety of high-quality coffees, and from a number of retailers which emulate Starbucks' business model (often adding a local twist).

This rapid proliferation of the company has been the subject of much comment and occasional parody, for instance in the Austin Powers films, The Simpsons, and South Park.

T-Mobile has a deal with Starbucks to provide Wi-Fi "hotspots."

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