On New Year’s Eve, large swaths of popular event site Evite went down, leaving folks wandering the streets, unable to access their party information. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, including many users on micro-blogging site Twitter. Meanwhile, chief executive Matt Douglas of upstart competitor MyPunchbowl tells me his site saw record traffic.

Now, let’s be clear: Evite’s failure probably didn’t cause MyPunchbowl’s spike; New Year’s Eve is the biggest party night of the year, and the site’s traffic has growing steadily. Heck, for all I know Evite saw record traffic too, consisting primarily of people frantically trying to reload event listings that wouldn’t come up. But it’s still a nice contrast, and lends a little credence to Douglas’s claim that MyPunchbowl could eventually steal the event website crown.

There’s a crowded field of startups with similar hopes, such as Socializr, Anyvite, Pingg, and more. (Socializr investor Auren Hoffman wrote a column for us about why he hates Evite.) None of them comes close to Evite’s traffic, but if Compete’s data is to be believed, MyPunchbowl leads the pack. The site stands out because it tries to be a full event-planning website, not just a way to send and track invitations. For example, before you invite people, you can poll them for the best date, then create a gift registry. After the event, you can allow people to share photos.

I’ll admit, I still prefer using Facebook Events, but Douglas says MyPunchbowl is particularly popular among people organizing special occasions, such as a birthday or a graduation. (I suggested weddings as another example, and Douglas politely pointed implied that I was nuts. That’s one event that will probably stick with paper invites.) As for momentum, Douglas didn’t give me too many specific numbers, but he said traffic has been growing at a compound rate of around 20 percent for the past 18 months. And when you combine the event side with MyPunchbowl’s free eCard service, the site had its most visitors ever on New Year’s Eve.

MyPunchbowl raised a $2.1 million second round in October 2008.

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Discover our Briefings.