The purpose is that in answering readers -- from their own experience -- may shed light on technical advisory boards and how [well] they operate.
Usually these things are kept pretty close to the vest.
There is nothing wrong with a company getting advice from an advisory board.
There is no problem with advisors being paid. Sounds like $1 million would not be too much to steer a company from making a $10 million mistake. But these things are hard to assess.
There is no should or should not about working for free. It is a personal choice.
I have been known to work for free (volunteering), for paid remuneration.
Why this blog? Just to ask questions of the readers what they might think? What is the purpose of that?
Is there something wrong with a company getting advice for their product, strategy, market, or competition? Should they keep their blinders on and plunge forward without considering outside views?
Is the problem that the advisors are being paid? Is $10K too much to be paid to steer a company from making a $10M mistake? Should the advisors work for free? Would you?
I guess I should quit reading blogs. (Sorry, that wasn't a question.)
The simple fact is that having all the high powered expertise you need as a startup is usually outside the limits of your spending. To that end, an advisory board, whether technical or management can make a lot of sense.
Critical to success is also the lack of ego of both the employees and board members.
The effectiveness of an advisory board can also be conditional on how well the management within a company operates. No matter how strong the board is, if the communication is not effective both down and up, then no matter the power of the board, it is not going to work, it may even be counter productive by setting goals or directions that are outside the capabilities of the company and/or not well aligned with potential product directions and effectively killing time to market.
I agree, the members of the board matter the most. If you stock it with yes-men/women, then you get limited value. However, if you put very qualified people on the board who are attuned with the technology and the users, then you have a very effective source of information.
Just my opinion,
If you pick your TAB such the members can help, they absolutely work. Since they are not employed by the company and paid in stock or cash or both and are independent, they are the best sounding board that you can find. They can agree or disagree with the CTO/VPE without fear of retribution, and that's why it is important to have a strong TAB. Who else will say "won't work this way, find another method."?