When it comes to returns on 10-year old investments, 2012 has sure been kind to VCs, claims a performance benchmark report by Cambridge Associates and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA).

According to the report, VC performance for the 10-year horizon has continued an upward climb for 11 consecutive quarters. Average returns for the fourth qarter, ending on December 31, 2012, reached 6.9 percent, more than doubling in the past year. At this time in 2011, the same rate of pooled end-to-end returns, net fees, expenses and carried interest, was 3.3 percent. 

This climb is good news, said Peter Mooradian, managing director and VC research consultant at Cambridge Associates. "A more reasonable supply of capital pursuing deals should translate to further improvement, but the exit markets will need to cooperate more broadly as well," he said. 

"It is interesting to note that 2012 is the first post-bubble year in which venture funds collectively distributed more cash to limited partners than they brough in," added Mark Heesen, president of NVCA. 

This last observation isn't particularly new, as it echoes the findings of NVCA's first quarter of 2013 report released earlier in April. While VCs raised $4.1 billion that quarter, quite a bit more than the $3.3 billion in funds raised during the fourth quarter of 2012, the number of funds themselves dropped from 44 to 35, the lowest number of funds raised in a quarter since Spring 2003.

Reflecting on the lower IPO and acquisition volumes in the first half of 2013, Hessen added that VCs are "counting on a more robust exit market beginning in the third quarter to continue along" the constructive path of VC performance.