Alphabet is known to make strategic investments in technology and infrastructure. For example, it has invested billions into clean power-generating projects and renewable energy start-ups to get closer to a goal of running its data centers on 100% renewable energy.
Google has made some large equity investments, including joining Fidelity in a $100 million investment in Elon Musk's space exploration start-up, SpaceX, and it led a $542 million round in augmented reality start-up Magic Leap in 2014 (prior to Google's reorganization into Alphabet).
Individual Alphabet divisions outside Google sometimes invest in start-ups that are related to their missions. For instance, in March 2017, health-focused division Verily invested in Freenome, a start-up developing a blood test to detect cancer, as CNBC reported.
In 2015, Alphabet division Sidewalk Labs, which is focused on urban improvement, invested in Intersection, a company formed from the merger of Titan and Control Group that rolled out public internet kiosks called LinkNYC in New York.
X, a kind of skunkworks lab at Alphabet, took an equity stake in at least one spin-out company: Dandelion, a start-up making it easier for homes to use geothermal energy for heating and cooling. (This seems to be the exception, rather than the rule, however. More X-related projects have stayed within Alphabet so far.)
Alphabet also makes non-equity investments in nonprofits and start-ups through Launchpad, an incubator space for early-stage start-ups, and its philanthropic arm, Google.org. In 2017, Google.org has doled out tens of millions in grants to education nonprofits, including Khan Academy and StoryWeaver, that use tech to accomplish their missions. Google.org has also invested in an accelerator for tech nonprofits, Fast Forward, in San Francisco.