Martha smiles on event manager Pingg, leads $2.8M round

Martha Stewart, cultural icon of event planning that she is, has given Pingg — maker of software for invitation and event management — her seal of approval, and contributed to a $2.8 million first round of funding via her media network Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO).

The transaction allows Pingg to run content from Martha’s other digital properties on its website and gives MSLO the right to provide Pingg’s unique event tools on MarthaStewart.com. In addition, all advertising affiliated with Pingg will be brokered by the larger media company. Previously, it brought in revenue through some premium paid services and online ads.

It offers customizable invitations that can also be emailed, printed or distributed through social networks, as well as event homepages, reminders, save-the-dates and thank you notes. The exchange with MSLO is a pretty good deal for the New York-based startup, considering it launched in February and faces pretty stiff competition in its field.

About 2.5 million invitations have been sent through the service since its inception. Compare that to its rival eVite, which does all of the above, has 18 million registered users, and claims to send 16 million invitations each month. Smaller players like Socializr have tried to chip away at its dominance to no avail. But Pingg does have an edge in some areas. Several bloggers have declared it a “sexier” site than others, appearing slicker and integrating more Web 2.0 concepts. For example, its Surround-Send option delivers a single invite to guests over email, mobile and Facebook at once. I’m guessing Martha wouldn’t settle for less.