If you think the IPO market has cooled because of a few scrapped deals and companies trading down since their offerings, you're missing the big picture. The stream of billion-dollar start-up sales and blockbuster IPOs is a growing draw for investors.
In the first quarter of 2014, there were 36 venture-backed IPOs, which makes the best quarter for new listings since 2000, according to the National Venture Capital Association. Meanwhile, the 105 M&A deals in the quarter was the strongest deal action since 2012.
There is strong momentum for investors seeking returns, too. In the fourth quarter last year, VC funds, on average, outperformed the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.
High-profile exits and strong returns are inspiring a lot more investment: The first quarter was the strongest for fundraising since 2007. VC firms raised $8.9 billion, more than double the amount raised in the year-earlier quarter.
CNBC is about to unveil its second annual Disruptor 50 list, a ranking of the most innovative private companies that are shaking up giants across a range of industries and challenging the status quo. Those disruptive ideas are fueled by big money—and big-name investors.
Ten of last year's Disruptor 50 have either been acquired or have filed to go public, part of the uptick in overall M&A activity and an improved IPO market.
So which VC firms will win big this year?