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Travis Kalanick in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 2012 (AP's Paul Sakluma)

A select group of Uber's institutional investors is exploring ways of removing Travis Kalanick as CEO, Axios has learned from multiple sources. Among those in the discussions is said to be venture capital firm Benchmark, whose partner Bill Gurley is on Uber's board of directors. Others include First Round Capital, Fidelity Investments, Lowercase Capital and Menlo Ventures.

"The question is what to do about Travis," said one Uber shareholder. "We're working through it."

Update: About 30 minutes after this story was published, The NY Times reports that Kalanick has resigned due to investor pressure.

Complications: Uber's investors do not really have the legal ability to fire Kalanick, so long as his longtime board allies Garrett Camp (Uber's founder and chairman) and Ryan Graves (Uber's first employee and current executive) remain reliable votes. So the actual mechanics of what the investors are attempting remain unclear, so long as neither Camp nor (to a lesser extent) Graves have flipped. One source said that litigation could eventually occur, while another referred to the situation as "very fluid."

Context: The investor discussions come as Uber has dealt with months of scandals and just one week after Kalanick voluntarily took an indefinite leave of absence from the company. The leave was related to both the sudden death of his mother as well as the broader workplace culture crisis at Uber, which included allegations of sexual harassment and led to the termination of at least 20 employees and the resignation of chief business officer and Kalanick confidant Emil Michael.

It also is unclear who would replace Kalanick as CEO, or what his role moving forward with the company might be.

Uber spokespeople have not yet returned requests for comment, nor has Gurley.

Go deeper

6 hours ago - World

Top general: U.S. losing time to deter China

Stanley McChrystal. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Stanley McChrystal, a top retired general and Biden adviser, tells Axios that "China's military capacity has risen much faster than people appreciate," and the U.S. is running out of time to counterbalance that in Asia and prevent a scenario such as it seizing Taiwan.

Why it matters: McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, recently briefed the president-elect as part of his cabinet of diplomatic and national security advisers. President-elect Joe Biden is considering which Trump- or Obama-era approaches to keep or discard, and what new strategies to pursue.

Progressives shift focus from Biden's Cabinet to his policy agenda

Joe Biden giving remarks in Wilmington, Del., last month. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Some progressives tell Axios they believe the window for influencing President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet selections has closed, and they’re shifting focus to policy — hoping to shape Biden's agenda even before he’s sworn in.

Why it matters: The left wing of the party often draws attention for its protests, petitions and tweets, but this deliberate move reflects a determination to move beyond some fights they won't win to engage with Biden strategically, and over the long term.

Dave Lawler, author of World
8 hours ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.