So I did some farting around. First I checked out google and looked for a listing of "large private companies" and picked one at random that I had never heard of. I spent less than an hour on google to see what I could find about who we'll call company X.
Preliminary stuff of which I quickly got bored and stopped recording: Main headquarters is in Minneapolis, European headquarters is Geneva, locations all over the place. Big on logistics, supply chain, etc.
Slightly more interesting: lots of programmers have been at X one time or another. They have both Lotus and Exchange environments, wireless networks deployed, they use Dell, AS/4000, Oracle 9i as of 2006, previously it was 8i. They deployed WinNT back in 97, didn't see anything since. First internal portal was deployed in (i think) 1999 and used plumtree. Theres a service desk operation in the Netherlands.
Key words: ERP - some mention JD Edwards, some mention "new and proprietary" ERP. They have an internal "Global Office II" application. They have an internal transaction application using smalltalk, sybase and is over 4million lines of code, deployed in 1999. Powerbuilder v8, perl, java.
I left a few keywords out to not make it obvious who I selected. This was one google search by the way:
site:linkedin.com "at Company X" inurl:in
I purposely didn't deepdive into divisions (i had around 4 division names and several business units as well as general IT keywords).
Lesson? Casing a company is pretty easy with linkedin if you're interested in 9 month to 9 year old stale information. Otherwise this was a pretty silly exercise and I wasted an hour of my life. The ROI on using this is possibly greater than single hits on mailing lists, job posting, blogs, etc.
If companies google me as an employment screening process, they should certainly expect the same from me.