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Google's many investments have it sometimes fighting itself

Alphabet has made headlines this month, not for its own core businesses, but for Uber and LendUp, two out of hundreds of smaller companies the behemoth has invested in over the years.

Those investments have been so widespread that the giant company sometimes finds itself at odds with its own investments. Earlier this month, Alphabet announced that it was testing its carpooling app in the U.S., despite an investment by its non-strategic venture capital arm in ride-sharing company Uber.

Google also found itself in the interesting position of banning payday lenders from its online advertising platform, while its venture capital arm holds an investment in a payday lender. The Wall Street Journal reported that the company, LendUp, would have a harder time marketing its loans after the change takes effect in July.

Almost 60 percent of the investments made by Google, GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Google Capital are outside of the company's own North American Industry Classification System sector — "information" companies. It has made at least one investment in 15 out of 20 sectors, according to our analysis.

Explore the data below. Each circle represents an investment round that Google participated in, according to FactSet, and circle sizes reflect the overall size of all investment during that round.

Most of Alphabet's investments are through GV, which provides venture capital funding to new companies. The fund has $2.4 billion under management, up from an initial commitment of $100 million when it was launched in 2009, and over a billion dollars more than it managed in 2013.

GV would not share the total amount it has invested in each year since it was founded, and like most venture capital funds, it doesn't disclose its returns.

From the beginning, GV's managers intended to branch out from the company's own industry. When it was founded, a TechCrunch editor asked if the fund would invest in moonshot technology ideas like a space elevator.

"Show me one that works," Bill Maris, one of the two GV founding executives, told him, "and I will invest in it."

Today, Google holds a nearly $1 billion stake in Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), which designs, manufactures and launches spacecrafts. Google has also invested in a seed round for Ispace Technologies, which makes networked micro robots for mapping resources and supporting humans in space, according to FactSet.

GV's portfolio of more than 300 companies includes prominent mobile companies like Uber, technology companies like Nest, life science companies like 23andMe, consumer products like Blue Bottle coffee and a variety of robotics and AI start-ups.

Out of 20 sectors, Alphabet only has a few left to invade: agriculture, mining, construction, arts and entertainment and company management. It's inevitable that the company will continue to run into apparent conflicts between its own expansion and its broad spread of investments.

GV did not immediately respond to questions about possible conflicts with the companies it supports.

CORRECTION: Google holds a nearly $1 billion stake in Space Exploration Technologies.