Why the Line for the Women’s Bathroom Is Significant, and Other Observations from the NVCA’s Annual Meeting

Venture capitalists are characteristically an upbeat bunch. It’s sort of a requirement for anyone who makes a living funneling millions of dollars to money-losing companies in the hopes of making enormous profits from the few that succeed.

This year, however — with the industry coming out of a multi-year period of sluggish fundraising and under-performing returns in the wake of the financial crisis — optimism seems to be on overdrive.

As I made the rounds at this year’s National Venture Capital Association Conference in Boston, virtually every venture industry I spoke with said he or she sees see current conditions as more favorable than a year ago. IPOs are back. M&A is picking up. And the closing of several outsized follow-on funds indicates that LPs are dipping their toes back in venture waters.

Contrarians might take that as a risky sign. After all, there’s a lot more upside from the bottom of a cycle than near the top. But for now, judging by the vibe at the NVCA conference, VCs are feeling pretty good. Following are some snippets from the panels, events, conversations, and bathroom lines:

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