picture-26.pngGoing.com, a site that combines events information with social networking, has taken $5 million and is growing quickly, even amid heavy competition.

Since launching at the beginning of this year, the company says it has grown to more than 500,000 unique users — most of whom are 20-somethings and all of whom are in one of the four cities the site supports for now: San Francisco, New York City, Chicago and Boston.

The financing comes from General Catalyst and Highland Capital, which also previously funded the company with $3.5 million.

It has grown in part because of its aggressive outreach technique. We registered for the site several weeks ago, provided the necessary contact information, and the site has emailed us with several events since even though we hadn’t explicity signed up for them.

Below is an example of an Going.com event that an has become an “editors pick.” It reveals the user who first added the event, the event itself, how many people are going.

The company started in its hometown, Boston, and has been expanding from there. While it incorporates user profiles and comments with its event listings — similar to what a long list of competing web sites are also doing (previous coverage) — it also puts teams on the ground. It hires local editors to highlight the most interesting user-added events, it works with established local event promoters, and brings in celebrities for special events that only members can go to. The company makes money from getting paid by sponsors for certain events. For example, NBC Universal is sponsoring an event for Don Cheadle’s new movie, “Talk to Me.”

It will use this funding to expand to other cities.

When we covered Going back in April, we noted it is going up against old-media competitors — in New York, for example, there is a long list of other print and online publications that feature events, including The Village Voice and Time Out New York. With Going’s continued growth, it seems those competitors will need to make improvements to their sites. However, let’s not forget that newspapers’ web site readerships are growing twice as fast as online audiences on web sites overall, according to Nielsen. There are several other start-ups in the local events area, including MingleNow and Down2Night, along with more mature players such as Zvents, Upcoming and Eventful.

Successful startups have also made use of putting people on the ground. MySpace began throwing parties together with celebrities and sponsors as early as 2004. Yelp, a local review site, paid local reviewers as it opened up local listings in new cities.

Facebook, specifically among social networks, seems to already be sucking air out of the room. It already relies on geographical locations to help users identify each other, and has an “events” feature. We find ourselves using it more and more for local events.

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