A short while ago I was reading about a lot of new companies initiating ICOs. If I understood correctly, investors that owned Ether would exchange Ether for tokens that company created. Later, if the company is successful that investor might exchange those tokens for more Ether than they previously had, and then exchange the Ether for USDs or other fiat currency. So, one incentive for buying Ether is to be able to use it to invest in tokens created by companies trying to raise money.
I also understand that developers can leverage the Ethereum blockchain, use Smart Contracts, and create Dapps. So, that's is cool and a reason for developers to invest, to bootstrap their new service or app, learn the tech, etc.
However, I've read about a number of large companies investing in the underlying technology, but not Ethereum or the Ethereum network itself. If I understand, they can setup their own blockchains, nodes, clients, smart contracts, whatever.
Why should developers or casual investors, or anyone invest in Ether vs. similar technology? What are definite future benefits to accruing Ether?
Update: For example, here is an example of a large company recognizing the benefits of the technology, but seemingly not contributing to the growth and value of Ethereum itself. http://fortune.com/2017/11/10/blockchain-hpe/. This doesn't seem to help Ethereum or small stake holders at all.