William "Bill" Earle is the former the CEO of Wayne Enterprises. He was the head of Wayne Enterprises after the murder of Thomas Wayne and told young Bruce that he would wait for him to grow up and run it. However, when Bruce Wayne left Gotham City, Earle had him declared dead and took Wayne Enterprises public. It was only the fact that Alfred Pennyworth was the designated trustee/inheritor of Bruce's assets and majority shareholding of Wayne Enterprises by Bruce himself in his will that delayed that plan. Earle was cold blooded and ruthless and was pleased that Bruce had returned to the company, if for no other reason, then to have him within reach so that he could keep him under control and out of the way. To that end, Earle was happy to grant Bruce's request for a "job" in the Applied Sciences Unit. Earle demoted Lucius Fox from the Board, later fired him, and said: "Didn't you get the memo?" During his tenure as CEO, Earle was motivated strictly by profit and shied away from "what Thomas Wayne would have done" and made heavy weapons manufacturing the cornerstone of Wayne Enterprises. It was also implied that he greatly decreased, if not entirely stopped the Wayne Enterprises charitable projects.
Shortly after the company was taken public, Bruce returned and reestablished himself with Wayne Enterprises. Bruce bought back a majority of the shares via roundabout means, became the owner again, and made Fox CEO. Fox quipped at Earle: "Didn't you get the memo?".