Starbuck's convinced a generation that they = coffee + environment.
WeWork could feasibly convince a generation of Gen-Z startup wannabes that 'they are startups'.
I find the milktoast 'fake startup' environments at WW kind of repulsive in that way - they are literally designed to be the 'environment for the post-Uni lifestyle' but in a watered down, 'safe space' inauthentic manner.
Kids are going through schools with 'everything', Unis 'with everything' (i.e. cappuccinos and lattes into class) to workspaces 'with everything'. It's like they don't have to encounter reality now until 30. And with 'retirement spaces' moving back from 65 ... we may successfully create the capitalist driven 'cradle to grave' lifestyle factories.
Like 'touring the world' is hoping from each of the 'French' and 'UK' and 'Canada' pavillions at Disney's Epcot centre ... you'll soon be able to walk through someone else's version of reality, like living full time in a 'real life commercial'.
I always appreciate the entrepreneurs who want to 'get out of there as soon as possible' for so many reasons.
All startups should have at least a few symbolic 'desks made out of doors' or something of the sorts, or maybe not-so-symbolic ones.
I'm not entirely sure what that equation means. That Starbucks has convinced a generation they're...a coffee shop? Even if you don't like their coffee, they are a coffee shop. That Starbucks...cares about the environment? By big corporation standards, you could do worse, I guess? Or do you mean that they present themselves as a good environment to do the "hang out here for a while or work here with a laptop" thing? With provisos about how wildly this can vary from location to location (boy howdy, can it), in general I'd argue they are a good place for that. In the SF Bay Area I have a panoply of cafes that serve better coffee, but the majority of them are louder and/or more crowded and/or more expensive and/or less comfortable and/or subtly-to-openly hostile to "digital nomads."
If I have a complaint against WeWork & friends, it's mostly a matter of cost; if I'd been bold enough to try a startup 10–15 years ago, which I probably should have, I wouldn't have dreamed of looking for office space until we had actual revenue (i.e., not VC/seed funding).
What they ostensibly want to crate is a 'mini community centre' a place where people can go, hang out, read, and interact in a hyper-local manner with 'people they know' - like the terraces in France or Italy. But what they've done is not this at all - the experience is utterly corporatized to the point of being banal. None of their products are locally sourced or relevant. They certainly didn't even try with things like Croissants (Starbucks croissants are like rubber, but who cares, so long as people don't know what a Croissant actually tastes like and keep buying them). The music is even 'lowest common denominator'.
There's a coffee shop near from me which is in fact the 'real deal': all foods made fresh each morning on-site, local owner who is actively engaged in the community (and a total character), and it's actually a true centre for finding out all the cool goings on in my hood. The music is chosen by the folks working there and it's always charming, nuanced and interesting. Literally with old French guys arguing about some political this or that (it's Quebec).
After hanging out in this local spot - visiting a Starbucks for me has about the charming authenticity of a McDonald's.
I've realized only recently that I think people have difficulty grasping this because they've lived in a corporatized bubble of culture their entire lives (this is common in North America) and have almost no context with which to compare it.
WeWork has pragmatic value (just like I don't mind grabbing a Starbucks when I'm out and about), but it's also designed to create an environment which is the 'romanticized' version of startups, not necessarily real ones. There is a great P Graham article about startups who 'play house' (I'm sorry I tried to find it for you to no avail) i.e. going through the motions. whenever I visit WW I get that feeling 10x. I also feel that the environments are inauthentic ... tiny little beer cups? What's with that? Liability? "Drink beer, but really, don't". Please.
A pragmatic concern is the 'arms race' that they kind of create for new startups trying to attract talent, in some ways 'hyper cool office' is becoming normative, and it's just an added, not-so-necessary expense.
I like the shared spaces for MeetUps however - this is actually quite valid and authentic.