Google parent company Alphabet throws around a lot of money.
There are three ways that the ~$550 billion behemoth currently invests:
1. Through the venture capital arm GV which has $2.4 billion under management and has invested in 300 companies including Nest, Uber, Slack, and Flatiron Health.
Its mission is to invest in early stage startups and it works like a regular venture capital firm with one limited partner. It ostensibly operates completely independently from the rest of Alphabet and doesn’t pick investments that strategically benefit its parent company. Sometimes, its investments even compete with Alphabet — like Uber.
2. Through the growth equity investment fund Google Capital, which has invested in Glassdoor, Thumbtack, Gusto, and, recently, its first public company, Care.com. David Lawee leads the group, which was founded in 2013.
Google Capital is similar to GV in that its investments are not directly connected to Google’s mission and objectives, and its mission is purely financial returns. However, it focuses on later stage startups than GV.
Which brings us to the last investing vehicle …
3. Through the company’s core M&A team, which serves all of Alphabet. This team invests strategically in companies in that are relevant to Google and Alphabet efforts. For example, Google poured money into secretive augmented reality startup Magic Leap and Google CEO Sundar Pichai serves on its board while it plugs away on its own VR efforts. It also invested in SpaceX, which is working satellites that are tangential to Google’s plans to beam low-cost internet across the globe.
Some of the companies Google invested in have become their own spinoff Alphabet subsidiaries, like Calico and Footpath Labs. Sound confusing?
Here’s an interesting look at the number of new deals from GV, Google Capital, and Google / Alphabet since 2013, via CB Insights: