I'll be spending next Friday and Saturday in San Francisco at Text By The Bay, billed as "A new NLP conference bringing together researchers and practitioners, using computational linguistics and text mining to build new companies through understanding and meaning."
With 46 interesting-looking talks and a couple of panels, this seems like an excellent way to get a sense of the opportunities and activities in this area. There are talks from people at Microsoft, Wikimedia, AirBnB, Trulia, Ancestry.com, Bloomberg, OpenTable, Twitter, LinkedIn, Verizon, etc., and from people at Berkeley, Stanford, Penn, and Purdue. And some of the presentations by people from smaller, newer, less-familiar outfits may be the most interesting of all.
Registration is not cheap — "new companies", an expensive venue, and all — but the organizer, Alexy Khrabrov, tells me that the discount code TEXTMARK will get you 50% off, and students who email to firstname.lastname@example.org from their university account may be able to negotiate further reductions.