Global e-commerce companies need to be aware of local needs, according to Yahoo boss Jerry Yang.

Yang, chief yahoo – his official title – of one of the most successful Internet-based companies, said reaching the global market requires an understanding of that market. Companies can't sit back and expect their English-language Web sites to capture the world, he said.

Are you local Yang said: "If you want to be successful, my belief is you've got to be very, very local." Even if an overseas user understands English, that person doesn't necessarily converse, or do business in English, he added.

Although English dominates the Web today, Yang said that in time most of content on the Web will be published in other languages.

Yahoo now offers its content in about 14 languages.

Yang also argued against privacy regulations, saying businesses have strong incentives to protect their customers' privacy. He said: "People spend a lot of money to acquire the customers, the best hope that we have in making money is holding on to those consumers forever."

Trust us Fundamental to building "a deep and long-lasting relationship" with users is their "trust in our ability to safeguard their privacy", Yang said.

Yang also warned that regulations could "fix" certain behaviours in an industry that is still evolving, potentially endangering the growth of the Internet.