After long drought, VCs see more tech IPOs, M&A on horizon

The market has yet to see a breakout technology IPO in 2016, though more companies went public in May than any month so far this year.

But now there are signs that is about to change significantly.

Mobile messaging company Line and communication development platform Twilio both filed for initial public offering (IPO) in the past few weeks. Twilio is a so-called "unicorn" by private market standards, funded at a valuation of $1.1 billion in 2015, according to CB Insights. Line, meanwhile, filed that it was worth about $5.5 billion.

It comes as venture capitalists have lamented the slow IPO market, which in the second half of last year priced only 51 companies, according to Proskauer's Capital Market Group 2016 IPO study. The first half of this year saw 37 IPO pricings, according to Renaissance Capital, 15 of which occurred as late as May.

Out of those, only SecureWorks was a major technology company, as rocky public markets have left recently-public companies down an average of 22 percent over the past year, according to Renaissance's IPO ETF.

But the May uptick, combined with Twilio and Line's prospectuses, seems to have convinced some venture capitalists that their fortunes are about to change.

"I know there are a lot of companies that are doing quiet filings made possible by the JOBS Act, and I think in the next year or two you'll see a more robust IPO market," Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and partner at Revolution Growth told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" on Wednesday.

Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz has a team focused on IPO preparedness, co-founder Marc Andreessen told Bloomberg at the publication's technology conference.

Case echoed those comments, saying that he thinks the right investment strategy is backing iconic, "built to last" independent companies, whose founders tend to be thinking about IPOs. He's especially interested in companies outside Silicon Valley or New York City, which Case says are an "arbitrage opportunity" because valuations tend to be lower.

An IPO would be just one way that start-up investors could cash out — the other being mergers and acquisitions, Andreessen told Bloomberg. Those too, seem promising, given Microsoft's blockbuster LinkedIn deal, Andreessen said.

"We see more deals in consideration or negotiation than we have in probably four years," Andreessen told Bloomberg.

Either way, the tea leaves seem to favor venture capitalists eager to exit their investments, even in industries beyond technology, Case said.

"It's going to shift from just entrances to more exits, and that's the focus for us as well at Revolution," Case said.